Wednesday, May 25, 2022

    Letter of OCU Primate Metropolitan Epifaniy to Patriarch Theodore II on anti-canonical actions of Russian Church

    The head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, signed a letter to Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria, in which he assured the First Hierarch of Africa of unequivocal support, brotherly love, and daily prayer on the part of all the OCU.

    The letter has been published on OCU’s official website.

    The following is the full text.

    Your Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, in Christ God very dear and valued brother and concelebrant of our Modesty κύριε κύριε THEODOROS, we embrace Your Beatitude in the name of our Lord, with sincere and joyful greetings.

    Your Beatitude!

    With deep sadness and pain in our being, we learned about the lawless, wicked, and impious decisions that the Church of Russia adopted to incur upon the canonical boundaries of the Holy and ancient Apostolic Patriarchate of Alexandria and All of Africa. By this, the Patriarch of Russia and the Synod headed by him grossly and unjustifiably violated canonical rules, particularly Canon 6 of the First Ecumenical Council.

    We are well aware that the actions of Patriarch Kirill of All Russia to establish a so-called exarchate in Africa have no canonical, pastoral, or even Christian motive, but are based solely on revenge for Your Beatitude and the Patriarchate headed by you for canonical communion with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Therefore, we fully endorse all evaluations and decisions of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria regarding this matter.

    We in Ukraine experienced – and continue to experience – the brunt of anti-canonical actions of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Moscow Patriarchate was established by the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the ancient Patriarchates towards the end of the 16th century as a Patriarchate for the “Northern lands” within the boundaries of the Muscovy Tsardom, and did not include the Metropolis of Kyiv, which from its beginning was an archdiocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. However, as is well known, in the second half of the 17th century, taking advantage of difficult circumstances and relying upon the political power of the tsars, the Patriarchate of Moscow invaded the Metropolis of Kyiv. Just as Metropolitan Leonid of Russian Church was appointed exarch in Africa, at that time the Moscow Patriarchate ordained Methodius, a priest from Ukraine, as bishop and appointed him as  “Locum Tenens of the Kyiv Metropolis” within the canonical territory of the living Metropolitan Joseph of Kyiv and All Rus. For such lawlessness, Methodius was anathematized by the Ecumenical Patriarch.

    This is the point in history at which began the invasion of the Moscow Patriarchate into the canonical boundaries of the Kyiv Metropolis, which continues to this day. The Patriarchate of Moscow and the government of the tsars seized power over the Kyivan Metropolis, just as they are now trying to seize power in Africa. We endured this for more than 300 years, until the Ecumenical Patriarch duly put an end to such lawlessness by convening the Council of the Church of Ukraine and granting it a Tomos of autocephaly.

    We must not forget the many other cases when the Church of Russia has invaded territory and violated canons. Without any basis, this Church and the Russian state in the 18th century invaded to the Metropolis of Crimea of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in the 19th century that of the autocephalous Church Georgia, and to Bessarabia of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. And, records of the Moscow Patriarchate and Stalin’s government lay out clear plans for convening a so-called Ecumenical Council after World War II for the purpose of declaring the Patriarch of Moscow the “Ecumenical” Patriarch.

    All these and many other facts and examples of lawless and anti-canonical actions of the Church of Russia, both in the past and ongoing today, including within the past three years the incitement of hostility and disputes within the Churches of Cyprus and Greece, clearly require proper canonical assessment. We are, however, confident that the Holy Patriarchate of Alexandria, together with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other Wise Patriarchs and Primates of the Holy Autocephalous Churches, will find an appropriate canonical solution to the present situation, one which will halt the Moscow Patriarchate’s efforts to create in Moscow the equivalent of a Catholic Pope, and turn Orthodoxy itself into an ethnocentric Russian sect.

    We assure Your Beatitude of our brotherly love, support, and prayers!

    Your Beatitude

    loving brother in Christ


    Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine


    January, 15, 2022