Moscow, September 14, Interfax - The Patriarchate of Constantinople risks undermining its status as "first among equal" in the Christian Orthodox world should it proceed with granting autocephaly to the church in Ukraine, Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, said.
"We will be forced to cut all Eucharistic communion, which will mean that the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarch of Constantinople, who often positions himself as the leader of the 300-million Orthodox population of the planet, will no longer be its leader," Metropolitan Hilarion told reporters after the extraordinary Synod meeting in Moscow on Friday.
"At least more than half of this population will not even recognize him as first among equals anymore," he said.
Commenting on the decision to stop mentioning Patriarch Bartholomew at Russian churches, the priest likened it to the severance of diplomatic relations.
"Taking an example from secular life, the decision would be roughly equivalent to the severance of diplomatic relations," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
In practice, Patriarch Kirill's rollcall will begin with Patriarch of Alexandria, not that of Constantinople, as previously, the hierarch said,
Any further decisions of the Russian Church will depend on Constantinople's actions.
"If they see their sinister deal through, we will cut all Eucharistic communion with them," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
At present, the laypeople of the Russian Orthodox Church can still receive communion at Mount Athos in Greece, he said, responding to a question posed by Interfax.