Kiev, October 16, Interfax - By discontinuing communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Russian Orthodox Church has put itself on the path of self-isolation from the entire Orthodox world, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said.
"I am sure this reaction by Russia's religious and secular authorities and the church leadership fully dependent on the Russian authorities confirms that we are on the right track," Poroshenko said at a meeting with Constantinople's exarchs in Kiev.
"The Russian Church has put itself on the path of self-isolation from and conflict with all of global Orthodoxy," he said.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate announced in early September that it was appointing Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon from the United States and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton from Canada as its exarchs in Kiev "within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine." Shortly following this announcement, the two arrived in Ukraine.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church ruled on Monday to sever relations with Constantinople in response to the latter's decision to rehabilitate the leaders of the self-proclaimed Ukrainian churches and its efforts to set up a unified local church in Ukraine.
"At its meeting today, the Holy Synod decided to discontinue all eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople," Metropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate's head of external church relations, told journalists at a news briefing after the meeting.
He said this was "an involuntary decision," but the Holy Synod could not have made a different one, as "all the logic of the Constantinople Patriarchate's latest steps has led to this."
On October 11, the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate made a number of decisions which the Russian Orthodox Church described as "predatory": Constantinople rehabilitated the leaders of the unrecognized Ukrainian Orthodox churches, announced the opening of a mission in Kiev, and abrogated an ordinance dating back to the 17th century that put the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Metropolitan Hilarion told journalists on Monday that, from the Russian Orthodox Church's viewpoint, all these decisions are "illegitimate and canonically null and void."
"The Russian Orthodox Church does not accept these decisions and will not follow them. A schism will be a schism, and leaders of a schism will be leaders of a schism. And a church that recognizes schismatics and enters into communion with them thus excludes itself from the canonical framework," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
This is the main reason why "we have to discontinue communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate as one that has fully identified itself with the schism," he said.
"Entering into communion with those who have deviated into schism, let alone those who are excommunicated from the Church, is tantamount to deviation into schism and is severely condemned by the canons of the Holy Church," the Holy Synod said.