Moscow, December 29, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church intends to open parishes worldwide without any regard for Constantinople, Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, said.
"We now have some 1,000 parishes in the diaspora and several dioceses, and, of course, we have not agreed, and especially in this situation we cannot agree that Constantinople has an exclusive right to ministry to the diaspora," the metropolitan said in an extraordinary program Church and the World aired on Rossiya-24 television following the Synod meeting in Moscow, where a decision was made to establish the patriarch's exarchates in Europe and Asia.
However, the Russian Orthodox Church was still involved in the work of the bodies that Constantinople created for coordination, and also in bishop assemblies, he said.
"We have now withdrawn from everywhere and we will now create our parishes, dioceses and structures in the non-CIS countries without any regard for Constantinople," the hierarch said.
On October 11, the Synod in Istanbul abolished its 1686 decree handing the Kiev Metropolitanate over to Moscow, announced the creation of a mission in Kiev, and rehabilitated the leaders of the non-canonical Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The Moscow Patriarchate's Synod did not recognize those decisions and responded by fully severing ties with Constantinople.
It was also decided to send Russian Orthodox Church priests abroad for ministry in the diaspora.
The Russian Church "will now act as if they [Constantinople] do not exist at all because our purpose is missionary, our task is to educate, we are creating these structures for ministerial care about our flock, there can be no such deterring factors here," the metropolitan said.
The diaspora is all those countries that are not included in the canonical limits of local churches, he said.
"For example, Europe, Southeast Asia, North and South America, Australia, it's all, from the point of view of Constantinople, a diaspora in which they believe only they can be represented, and we should all leave there and give our parishes and dioceses to them," the metropolitan said.
Moscow has never agreed to that "because we have millions of flock in the diaspora," he said.
"It's the initiative of our flock on the ground that leads to the creation of our parishes, it's not that someone in Moscow has an idea that we need to make a parish in Singapore or in Thailand," he said.