08 September 2018, 19:28
Russian Orthodox Church accuses Constantinople of treachery, threatens breakup in case of recognition of Ukrainian autocephaly
Moscow, September 8, Interfax - Church diplomacy has exhausted itself in the dialogue with the Church of Constantinople over the Ukrainian issue, the Moscow Patriarchate said.
"Apparently, means of the church diplomacy have by now been exhausted," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, told the television channel Rossiya-24 on Saturday.
A few days ago Patriarch Kill travelled to Istanbul to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, he said.
"On the outside, it was quite a civil, polite and even fraternal meeting. But unfortunately the Constantinople side not only failed to heed our arguments, but it even acted, in our view, ignobly and treacherously," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
If the Ukrainian schismatics are granted autocephaly, the relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople will be severed, he said.
"If Constantinople carries out its perfidious plan to grant autocephaly, it means that a group of schismatics will obtain autocephaly. The canonical church will not accept this autocephaly, we the Russian Church will not recognize this autocephaly, of course, and we will have no other choice but to severe ties with Constantinople," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
"The Patriarch of Constantinople will no longer have any right to be styled as he is now, the leader of the 300 million Orthodox population of the planet," he said. "At least half this population will not recognize him at all," he said.
It is no accident that the Patriarch of Constantinople is in such a hurry: "he understands that the days of the current Ukrainian government are numbered, he understands that there will be elections next spring, and it is quite probable that a new force will come to power," which will no longer subscribe to Constantinople, he said. "They are trying to wrap up their sinister deal as quickly as possible," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
How long it will take the Russian Church to retaliate will depend on how soon the schism is legitimized, he said.
It was reported that a day earlier the Patriarchate of Constantinople appointed two exarchs in Kiev as part of preparations to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Such was Constantinople's response to the request by President Petro Poroshenko to issue a tomos for the creation of the united local church in Ukraine.
At a synaxis with archbishops in Istanbul on September 1 Patriarch Bartholomew said that he assumed the initiative to overcome Ukrainian schism "since Russia, as the one responsible for the current painful situation in Ukraine, is unable to solve the problem." He motivated his decision by requests from the Ukrainian government and the leader of the self-proclaimed "Kiev Patriarchate".