Moscow, October 22, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate is skeptical about the decision to award new titles to Filaret Denisenko, the head of the non-canonical Kiev Patriarchate.
"Filaret has always been and remains a schismatic to us. This whole farce of the awarding of titles only shows once again that the decision to excommunicate him in 1997, which was then recognized by all local churches without exception, including the Constantinople Patriarchate, was right. Filaret can take as many titles as he pleases, but that does not change the essence: he has never been a patriarch and is not such. And that means he is not His Holiness or His Beatitude," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, said in an interview with the Greek church news agency Romfea.
Earlier, the Synod of the self-proclaimed Kiev Patriarchate announced the decision to award Filaret the title of "His Holiness and His Beatitude Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev, Mother of Russian Lands, Holy Archimandrite of the Kiev Pechersk and Pochayev Lavras."
The Russian Orthodox Church says this decision discredits Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who legitimized the Ukrainian schism, even more than Filaret himself.
"This support from Constantinople is even more surprising than the new titles awarded to Filaret. Did the advisors to Patriarch Bartholomew, who recommended that he defend this odious figure, think this through? Did they not set their superior up by doing that?" Metropolitan Hilarion said.
The Russian Orthodox Church official said that when the Constantinople Patriarchate decided to reinstate Filaret, they also called "on all parties involved to avoid taking churches, monasteries, and other property, or any other acts of violence and reprisal" and that the president of Ukraine then promised that there would be no division of property.
"However, can one trust these calls and promises when the main leader of the schism, who has now been justified by Constantinople, isn't hiding his plans to take the main holy places of the canonical Ukrainian church, and nationalist groups are ready to take over them with his 'blessing'? It seems that right now, only the absence of a tomos on autocephaly is keeping those who want to do away with the canonical Church from taking forceful actions," Metropolitan Hilarion said.