Moscow, September 16, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has questioned the legitimacy of a church authority which enters into concelebration with schismatics.
"It's important to think again what church schism means, how local Churches should react to it, whether prayer and eucharistic communion with schismatics is acceptable, and what canonical consequences such communion has, whether a church authority that has breached the church system by serving with schismatics and self-ordained clergy, who have no canonical ordination, can be considered legitimate," the patriarch said while opening a theological conference on the situation in world Orthodoxy caused by the interference of Constantinople in the church affairs of Ukraine, held in Moscow on Thursday.
Saying that church canons give exhaustive answers to all these questions, the patriarch called on the forum's participants to think about how to use these canons in practical life, what precisely they mean in this situation.
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople founded a new Ukrainian church (the Orthodox Church of Ukraine) on the basis of two non-canonical organizations and despite the protests of the Russian Church, of which Ukraine is a canonical part, with support from the administration of Ukraine in late 2018. That led to the severance of eucharistic communion between the Russian Orthodox Church and Constantinople. No local Orthodox Church, except for Constantinople, recognized the new church structure for a long time. Some Greek churches and primates later spoke in support of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and the Russian Orthodox Church had to sever relations with them over that.
Patriarch Kirill said the Russian Orthodox Church remains united and consolidated in the face of the schism in global Orthodoxy.
"The events that have occurred in Ukraine, which were caused by the illegal invasion by Constantinople of the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, helped many in our Church think again about the gift of unity that we have inherited from our centuries-long history," the patriarch said.