The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its meeting on December 29 ruled to accept 102 clergymen of the Alexandrian Patriarchate from eight African countries into the ROC jurisdiction and to establish a patriarchal Exarchate in Africa consisting of North African and South African dioceses.
This is stated in the decision passed by the ROC Synod.
Who will follow the Metropolitan of Klin?
While accusing everyone around them of “schism,” the ROC is introducing schisms in other Local Churches. Thus, the motive for creating a schismatic structure on the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria for Russian synod members was the mentioning by Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria during the Divine Liturgy on November 8, 2019, of the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, his recognition of the OCU, and his co-service with Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine on August 13.
“To date, at least 100 parishes of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, led by their superiors, have volunteered to join the Russian Orthodox Church. Many of them appealed to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in 2019, after the recognition of the schismatic group (OCU – ed.) by the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria,” the ROC Synod said.
Therefore, the ROC decided that it was impossible any longer to deny the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Alexandrian, who had submitted the relevant requests, in accepting them under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Thus, the ROC formed the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa as part of the North African and South African dioceses, and ruled to accept to the ROC jurisdiction a total of 102 clergymen of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in eight countries. It should be noted that the motivational part of the ROC Synod’s decision was about parishes, but it was only clergy who were admitted to jurisdiction.
Archbishop Leonid (Gorbachev) of Yerevan and Armenia became the head of the ROC exarchate in Africa. He was entitled Metropolitan of Klin. At the same time, he will also temporarily retain the top position in the Yerevan-Armenian Diocese.
ROC invading the territory of the Church of Alexandria
After Patriarch Theodore recognized the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate decided to split the Alexandria Church. The ROC harbored high hopes that it would be able to attract the clergy of the Church of Alexandria to flip coats. At the end of 2020, the ROC stated that there were priests in Tanzania and Kenya who stood in opposition to Patriarch Theodore and were ready to quit the Patriarchate of Alexandria to become a base for the ROC’s presence in Africa.
In September 2021, the ROC Synod decided to sow a split in Africa’s Orthodoxy. There they decided to create an anti-canonical parallel hierarchy, which is banned by Orthodox canons. The ROC planned to lure priests of the Patriarchate of Alexandria to the Moscow Patriarchate. According to religious expert Oleksandr Yefremenko, Moscow is splitting Orthodoxy, while putting all blame on Constantinople. He also described how the ROC split the Orthodox Church on the example of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
Ukraine-based religious expert Oleksandr Yefremenko noted: “ROC clerics Andrei Novikov and Georgy Maksimov have repeatedly traveled to Africa. There, with the blessing of the clergy of the ROC, they studied the moods and selected among the clergy of the Church of Alexandria persons of interest to the ROC. The main focus was on whether the latter could oppose Patriarch Theodore and join the ROC’s future structure in Africa.”
Individual clergymen with the ROC in Ukraine condemned such decisions. In particular, Feognost Pushkov called the actions of the Russian Orthodox Church in Africa an “equivalent to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”
Late October 2021, Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria paid a visit to Africa (Uganda and Tanzania). We reported that, despite intimidation by the ROC in Africa, no one transitioned under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Patriarch of Alexandria was welcomed with honor in Uganda. He also visited Tanzania, where the ROC believed that their diocese should exist. Earlier, Patriarch Theodore II said that if his heart was torn, Ukraine would be there, and that his decision to recognize the OCU came following many prayers and reflections.
In October 2021, the head of the ROC’s External Church Relations Department, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev), stated that the ROC had previously waited for the Patriarch of Alexandria to revoke the OCU’s recognition, but now Moscow would act.