The topic is being revived in media of an upcoming Pan-Orthodox meeting in Amman, which was initiated by Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem to address the issue of maintaining “unity of Orthodox Churches”.
In the late hours of Wednesday, February 12, Russian media started spinning reports that Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev would attend the meeting. That’s according to Metropolitan Hillarion Alfeyev, head of the ROC’s Department of External Church Relations, who spoke with RIA Novosti. The news was quickly picked up by Russian news portals.
In his comment, Metropolitan Hillarion stated that Patriarch Kirill would attend the meeting even if the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended, too. Such a word play by Kirill’s aide has raised some eyebrows, for it is known that not only will Ecumenical Patriarch turn down participation in this meeting, he has already openly condemned the very fact of its convocation, calling the meeting “a non-canonical initiative that undermines the Ecumenical throne”.
This was confirmed by Hillarion, who said that “when the Patriarch of Constantinople received a letter from the Patriarch of Jerusalem inviting him to participate in the meeting, he refused, explaining his decision that the letter hadn’t been written in sacred Greek, but in English. And in his opinion, only he has the right to convene a meeting of the leaders of local churches.”
However, Hillarion himself stated that, according to his sources, “the Patriarchate of Jerusalem continues to work on inviting heads of local churches, including the Patriarch of Constantinople.”
Such rhetoric by Metropolitan Hillarion may be a kind of signal to the Ecumenical Patriarch that indicates that the Moscow Patriarchate is at all costs inclined to hold the meeting no matter whether the Ecumenical Patriarch partakes or not.
In our previous publications, we have stated the purpose of the Moscow Patriarch for this meeting, namely the unified condemnation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and taking over primacy in the Orthodox world. At present, however, Alfeyev himself stops short of assigning to the forthcoming meeting in Amman a compulsory pan-Orthodox status and significance, calling it an informal “fraternal meeting” to discuss the existing issues.
It should be noted that Metropolitan Hillarion places the blame for these problems on the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In particular, he noted that “so far the Patriarch of Constantinople has shown no desire to resolve the issue he created. He is just trying to get everyone to recognize his wrongful decision.” According to him, “local Orthodox churches largely don’t recognize these decisions.”
However, it was the Moscow Patriarchate itself, which created an issue by severing communication with the Churches that had recognized the OCU. None of the Local Churches broke communication with the ROC. That is, once again we can emphasize that it’s the ROC which is to blame for all the problems that arose. However, the ROC itself isn’t willing to see this, instead trying to complicate the situation, including with their future “fraternal meeting in Amman”.
This is exactly what most Orthodox Churches realize. Head of the Albanian Church, who formally declined to participate in the Jordan meeting, said exactly that, noting that this would only further “complicate things.” However, the ROC doesn’t seem to worry about it, continuing to wage splits in Orthodox unity.
It is noteworthy that no official date has been announced for this meeting. We have already noted that the initial probable date appeared on the page of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine in one of the social networks. In particular, the UOC Information Center, controlled by Metropolitan Anthoniy Pakanych, pointed to February 20, but as we can see, it was a premature call as Metropolitan Hillarion hadn’t declared the official date of the “fraternal meeting”. Some reports that repeated the message about Kirill’s participation indicated that it would take place on February 20.
However, another information resource of the ROC in Ukraine, also affiliated with Metropolitan Anthoniy Pakanych, called “Union of Orthodox Journalists”, on February 14 announced an updated date – February 25. In particular, this date is mentioned in the reports about the expected participation of Polish and Serbian Churches in the Amman meeting, which were published on February 14. Notably, the news (dated February 12) about the participation in the Amman meeting of Patriarch Kirill had not indicated the date of the meeting, but only referred to Metropolitan Hillarion Alfieev, stating that it would be held in the third decade of February 2020.
Anyway, no matter the mess with the dates, it becomes clear that the ROC is still set to implement their provocative plan whatever it may cost them because it’s their future that’s at stake. We are yet to see what consequences such a brazen move will bring to Moscow hierarchs.