2019-02-13 11:46:00

Russian Orthodox Church's Asian exarch assumes office created in response to Constantinople's actions

Moscow, February 13, Interfax - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church's patriarchal exarchate in Southeast Asia has performed a liturgy for the New Martyrs and Confessors at the Parish of the Dormition in Singapore.

This was Metropolitan Sergy's first service as part of his archpastoral tour of Asia since the Holy Synod appointed him the head of the exarchate, which includes Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, North and South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand, the Russian Orthodox Church said in a statement on its website.

The creation of the exarchate was a response to Constantinople's "anti-canonical decisions" on Ukraine, the patriarchal press secretary priest Alexander Volkov told reporters.

"We had always treated the Patriarchate of Constantinople with respect and turned a blind eye to its claims to custody over the whole of the Orthodox diaspora, but, of course, this approach has little in common with reality, because there is no reason for the Patriarchate of Constantinople to think itself entitled to take the entire diaspora, both in Western Europe and in other parts of the world, under its spiritual protection," the priest said after the Synod met in late December.

The Synod also set up an exarchate in Western Europe, and in November 2018, Patriarch Krill sent a priest to Turkey to minister to Russian speakers.

On October 11, 2018, the Synod in Istanbul annulled its 1686 decree handing over Kiev the Metropolitanate to Moscow and announced a decision to create a new church in Kiev and rehabilitate the leaders of non-canonical Ukrainian churches. The Moscow Synod responded by severing relations with Constantinople.

In mid-November, Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, said that the breakup left the Russian Church "with no other choice but to send priests (...) to our believers for pastoral service, and this will continue for as long as the Patriarch of Constantinople remains in schism."