Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) of Moscow during a sermon after the Liturgy of the Baptismal Evening in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery said that part of the world Orthodoxy “may split in the influence of external forces.”
“There is a threat that part of Orthodoxy, under the influence of external powerful forces that have nothing to do with the church, may be affected by this sin (schism – ed.) and shift away from the source of eternal life to a place where there is only a rite, but no salvation. That is why today we especially address those who are still considering whom to stay with – with the church or with the split,” Russian government media quoted Kirill as saying.
It should be recalled that the Alexander Nevsky Skete, the facility of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, is a site of Kirill (Gundyaev)’s self-isolation, which he left only a few times last year. Moreover, we should recall the requirement for all priests who co-served with Kirill on Christmas to wear respirators. Therefore, there could be no sermon as such for the flock at the Skete. Indeed, there was a statement by the head of the ROC, in which he stressed that “this is not just a human choice,” but “the path to either salvation or death.”
But Kirill (Gundyaev) did not specify whose “death” and whose “salvation” he meant.
The Moscow patriarch declared that not only people but also churches could turn away from God and be deprived of his grace. He has called to pray “for our church and for all Orthodox churches” so that “no divisions, splits, which are constantly sown by the enemy of the human race, turned any church into something devoid of divine grace.”
Most likely, Kirill’s statement is a reaction to the address of the Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore II to the Ecumenical Patriarch with a request to convene a meeting of the Pentarchy on the “Russian issue” – the ROC invasion of the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. The Pentarchy is the five heads of the five oldest Orthodox Churches: the Ecumenical, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antiochia, and Cyprus.
The Pentarchy is entitled to evaluate the actions of other Local Churches and to demand action. In other words, the heads of the oldest Orthodox Churches have the right and opportunity to put the ROC and its leader Kirill (Gundyaev) in place. This the Moscow patriarch, of course, does not acknowledge and will split from the world Orthodoxy while accusing others of “schism.”