04 July 2008, 16:49
Moscow Patriarchate confirms Alexy II is to visit the 1020th anniversary of Russia's Baptism in Kiev
Moscow, July 4, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church doesn't doubt the intention of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia to chair the Ukrainian celebrations of the 1020th anniversary of Russia's Baptism.
The Ukrainian presidential secretariat deputy head Yury Bogutsky said at a briefing the day before that Patriarch Alexy had not give a final response whether he would arrive in Kiev and the Synod was to decide if Alexy II or "a representative delegation" would come to the Ukrainian capital. Meanwhile, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has already confirmed his intention to visit Kiev, according to Bogutsky, on invitation of Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko and Patriarch Alexy II.
The Moscow Patriarchate "is surprised" with such a statement. "Since February, when Viktor Yushchenko invited Patriarch Alexy II to visit Ukraine and participate in the 1020th anniversary of Russia's Baptism, the Russian Orthodox primate has confirmed his intention to see Ukrainian flock more than once," a secretary for inter-Orthodox relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolay Balashov told the Interfax-Religion on Friday.
He reminded that Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine addressed the same request to the patriarch.
Besides, according to Fr. Nikolay, "Alexy II confirmed his intention to visit Kiev in July (and it wasn't even questioned by either party) during his conversation with Yury Bogutsky as the Patriarch met with him on Yushchenko's personal request."
"The possibility of inviting personally Patriarch of Constantinople to Kiev was also discussed at the meeting, so Bogutsky knows pretty well that the Russian Church primate didn't invite Bartholomew I to Kiev," the interviewee of the agency noted.
He also didn't confirm the information Bogutsky voiced earlier that the patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem were to visit Kiev. According to Fr. Nikolay, primates of the Alexandrian and Jerusalem Churches informed that their representatives would come to Kiev on Alexy II's invitation.
Besides, the Moscow Patriarchate representative is concerned with Bogutsky's statement that Yushchenko intends to initiate discussions on establishing the Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church.
Fr. Nikolay agrees with the Ukrainian state's representative that steps to church unity should keep "within the rules of canonical Orthodoxy." At the same time the priest doubts if it is canonically valid that a secular state "establishes the one Orthodox Church," and the opinion of the Ukrainian presidential secretariat deputy head as the latter believes that the process "should be approved by hierarchs" of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, "the Kiev Patriarchate" and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
"However, in compliance with canonical requirements, it's impossible to compare canonical and recognized as such by the entire Orthodox world the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to non-canonical Ukrainian Autocephalous Church and moreover to "the Kiev Patriarchate," headed by the person alienated from the Orthodox Church," the interviewee of the agency noted.