Moscow, October 23, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church sees manifestations of nationalism in Patriarch Bartholomew's speech yesterday and says nationalism is inadmissible in the affairs of the church.
The primate of the Church of Constantinople said that his privileges are based on the canons of the Ecumenical Councils and that everyone in Orthodoxy must respect them, which means that the Russian Orthodox Church "will sooner or later adhere to the decisions" of Constantinople regarding Ukraine.
"Our Slavic brothers cannot accept the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our nation in Orthodoxy," Patriarch Bartholomew said in his speech.
The deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, expressed bewilderment at this approach.
"We can only regret it if His Holiness imagines the importance of the ethnic factor in the church in this way," he told Interfax on Tuesday.
The superiority of the Patriarch of Constantinople (who is referred to as "ecumenical" in keeping with Byzantine tradition") over primates of local churches "was never doubted by the Orthodox Slavs from the time the bishop of Rome severed communion with the Orthodox world," mostly due to his desire to reign over the Ecumenical Church and be above its Councils, the priest said.
"This continued until the primate of Constantinople imagined himself as the first without equals, primus sine paribus, which resulted in, among other things, anti-canonical acts with relation to Ukraine," Father Nikolay said.
Now, Patriarch Bartholomew has gone even further in terms of destroying the canons, he said.
"'The superiority' of any clan or nation in Orthodoxy is yet another new doctrine utterly alien to Orthodox belief and, I would say, completely unacceptable to all churches, and especially to the multinational Russian Church, which unites believers from many nations, from dozens of various ethnic groups," he said.
He expressed bewilderment at the way such a statement could be combined with the decisions of the Synod of Constantinople of 1872, which condemned the heresy of ethnophyletism. "Or is only Slavic nationalism sinful, while the Greek variety is sacred and worthy of praise?" the priest said.
He described Patriarch Bartholomew's latest speech as "very unfortunate" and said that it shows "serious distortions of the teachings on the Church," which, "indeed, will not be tolerated, not only by the Slavs, but also by other Christians around the world."