Moscow, September 10, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church is determined to do its utmost to persuade the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to refrain from meddling in Ukraine's ecclesiastical affairs, Vladimir Legoyda, head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, said on Sunday evening.
At the same time, the statement made by the Moscow Synod on Saturday signals unambiguously that, if Constantinople follows through on the steps on Ukraine it has announced, the Moscow Patriarchate will certainly take countermeasures, Legoyda said in a show hosted by Vladimir Solovyov on the Rossiya-1 television channel.
"The response will be extremely tough," he said.
"Definitely, the unity of Orthodoxy is more important to us in this case," he said.
Therefore, "the Russian Church is certainly trying to preserve peace and keep our brothers from some irreparable steps as far as it can," Legoyda said.
The meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul on August 31 was "a vivid demonstration of our preparedness for negotiations and for preserving peace," he said.
Ukraine is "being torn apart" by conflicts as it is, and "it's been in this awful situation for many years, too," he said.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate's Permanent Delegation to the World Council of Churches announced in a statement on its website on Friday that it had appointed Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon from the United States and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton (Canada) as its exarchs in Kiev "within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine."
The Constantinople Patriarchate so responded to Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko's request on issuing a tomos (ordinance) of autocephaly of a unified Orthodox church in Ukraine.
Both Archbishop Daniel and Bishop Hilarion "are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate," the statement says.