Tuesday, October 26, 2021

    How ROC splits Orthodox Church: example of Alexandria Patriarchate

    I’d like to dwell on the ROC’s effort to create a parallel organization in the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which is foreign to the ROC. Such an intention by the Danilov Monastery was formalized in journal No. 61 of the ROC Synod’s Sep 24 meeting.

    This is the history, analysis of, and insights into the aggressive methods of the ROC in relation to the Church of Alexandria. However, the ROC plays similar scenarios toward other Local Churches.

    The ROC began to create a parallel organization in the canonical territory of the Church of Alexandria immediately after Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria recognized the autocephaly of the OCU and commemorated its head, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epifniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine.

    From late 2019 to September 2020, the ROC, through the Department of External Church Relations and the Russian Foreign Ministry, researched the moods among clergy and sought opportunities to set the clerics of the Patriarchate of Alexandria against their superior.

    The official to oversee the issue was Archbishop Leonid, Deputy Chairman of the External Church Relations Department, headed by Ilarion (Alfeev).

    In September 2020, three priests from Kenya, who had publicly led a coup against their Patriarch Theodore, secretly visited Moscow to take further steps in opposition to their primate and in Moscow’s interest. It is rumored that these priests received their “30 silver coins” for their services to the ROC. Given the poor condition of the region’s parishes, which are in fact subsidized, the ROC began funding all priests of the Patriarchate of Alexandria who stood up against their superior.

    In early November 2020, Archbishop Leonid said that the ROC was considering the possibility of admitting to the clergy hundreds of clerics with the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which confirms the accords reached with the leaders of the revolt.

    Even back then, the ROC understood how utopic the plot was to create a parallel organization in someone else’s canonical territory:

    • Targeted delivery of funds didn’t always reach the recipient, getting “lost” among intermediaries;
    • Excessive and irrational financial costs (even for the ROC) – the Russian church will lack own resources to continue this endeavor for any considerable time;
    • Lack of a reliable leader who would go for this situational and risky affair;
    • Disgust and condemnation of the insidious actions by the ROC among other Local Churches;
    • The alternative ecclesiological reality (actions in another’s canonical territory), created by the ROC, will eventually play against it;
    • Loss of support even among ROC adherents in other Local Churches.

    The ROC hoped this situational “muscle flexing” plan would force Patriarch Theodore to change his decision. This was accompanied by a powerful information campaign to enhance the effect. They were publicly raising funds in support of the “canonical rebels” and offering, from a position of strength, to agree with Patriarch Theodore on a “rollback in the OCU recognition” – not free of charge, of course.

    Yesterday, the ROC officially formalized their first step within the plot to create a parallel organization in the canonical territories of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Its goal is to raise the stakes so that the patriarch condemns Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and recalls recognition of the OCU autocephaly, due to which the ROC seeks to get another point in trying to win the lead in the Orthodox world. Of course, the ROC seasons their efforts with claims about figting for “purity of faith” and “ultimate canonicality.”

    I am sure that this utopian and obviously futile plan by the ROC will end bad. A parallel organization in Africa would be too distant and too costly. Having established such an organization based on traitors’ aid, you can’t last long – and the ROC is well aware of that. All the ROC can do is create the “impression of split,” applying various information tools, and blackmail the Ecumenical Orthodoxy. But in fact, a parallel organization in someone else’s canonical territory will drown what’s left of the ROC authority at the inter-church level.

    Oleksandr Yefremenko is a Ukrainian religious expert