2018-07-09 00:00:00

Patriarch Kirill, representatives of Constantinople Church discuss preserving inter-Orthodox unity

Moscow, July 9, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has discussed the issue of keeping inter-Orthodox unity with representatives of the Constantinople Patriarchate.

According to the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill met with Metropolitans Emmanuel of Galle and Bartholomew of Smyrna at his working residence in Moscow's Chisty Lane on Monday.

"The conversation addressed issues relating to keeping inter-Orthodox unity," the report said.

The Russian Orthodox Church was also represented in the meeting by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk and Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, deputy head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations.

"In the meeting, the parties frankly and openly stated their positons on a number of issues that present mutual interest, including the situation in Ukraine," Father Nikolay told Interfax-Religion.

"Both parties find this meeting useful," he said. The priest said the positons of the Russian Church stated there will be communicated to Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod of the Constantinople Church in the near future.

The issue of inter-Orthodox unity drew broad debate in the past few months in connection with the so-called Ukrainian issue.

According to earlier reports, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko in April asked Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew to grant a tomos of autocephaly to the Church in Ukraine and announced an intention to create "a unified local church." The Verkhovnaya Rada supported the presidential address.

Afterward, high representatives of the Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchates held a series of consultations with local Orthodox Churches on the matter. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk repeatedly said he had been told about the need to observe the canonical approach in a serious issue such as the granting of autocephaly.

Metropolitan Hilarion also warned about the inevitable deepening of division in Ukraine and on a schism in the Orthodox Church, which he believes could be compared to the Great Schism of 1054.

A delegation of archbishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, for its part, visited Istanbul in late June. After the visit, they said the rumors about preparations being made for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the Constantinople Patriarchate had not been confirmed.

"Instead, the archbishops of the Constantinople Patriarchate said that their Church was ready to join the process of overcoming the Ukrainian church schism in consultations with their brotherly local Orthodox Churches," the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said in their statement.