Wednesday, April 17, 2024

    Moscow Patriarchate trying to create “anti-Constantinople bloc” from two ancient Churches

    The Russian Orthodox Church is trying to reconcile the ancient patriarchates – the Antioch and Jerusalem Orthodox Churches – in order to join them in a single “front” against the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Amman format.

    With the help of two churches, the Russian Orthodox Church seeks to put pressure on the OCU, Patriarch Bartholomew, and at the same time block the meetings of the Pentarchy, which includes the Antioch and Jerusalem Churches, so that they cannot judge the actions of the Moscow Patriarchate, namely, the intervention of the Russian Orthodox Church in the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the promotion of war, and humanization of Russian crimes, creating a split in world Orthodoxy.

    The Pentarchy is a group of four patriarchates that can judge other heads of Churches. These patriarchates include those of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem (the Roman Church split in 1054). The trial of the Patriarch of Moscow had already taken place earlier – in 1666. Then the four Eastern Patriarchs condemned the head of the MP, Nikon. The historical example of the trial of Patriarch Nikon in 1666 shows that the decisions of the Pentarchy are valid for all of Orthodoxy, so the Russian Orthodox Church is trying to block the possibility of such a trial against it in the future and deliver a preemptive strike to Phanar.

    Relations between the Russian Orthodox Church, the Antiochian and Jerusalem Churches are currently in a poor state due to the dispute over parishes in Qatar. That is why the Antiochian Patriarchate did not attend the previous Amman meeting in 2020, although it is very loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia. However, the ice is breaking little by little. Recently, the Holy Synod of the Jerusalem Patriarchate welcomed the decision by Antioch to restore communication and emphasized the importance of strengthening fraternal relations between fraternal patriarchates. Through the Qatari parishes, the Eucharistic unity was interrupted by the Antiochian Church 10 years ago – in 2014.

    The Russian Orthodox Church reaches out through political channels to influence the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem. In recent months, Russian diplomats practically do not get out of the offices of these churches’ heads.

    In addition, the MP works on the “church line” as well. On January 28, 2024, the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Antoniy (Servyuk) of Volokolamsk, while on an official visit to Syria, with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, took part in the Divine Liturgy in the Church of St. Ignatius the God-bearer at the Representative Office of the Russian Orthodox Church in Damascus, wrote the website of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The service was led by the Patriarch of Antioch and All East, John X, together with Metropolitan Anthony and other Antioch and Russian hierarchs. In his sermon, Patriarch John emphasized the union of the Antiochian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, which are in the same family, and condemned the “persecution” against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP). Not a single word was said about Patriarch Bartholomew.

    “We know and feel the current situation of Russia, we see what is currently happening to believers in Ukraine. We feel your pain and always pray with you,” the Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Church emphasized and thanked the diplomat of the Russian Federation in Syria, Archimandrite Philip (Vasyltsev). According to John, the visit of the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate is “a testimony of the great love of Patriarch Kirill and the entire Russian Orthodox Church for the Antiochian Orthodox Church, which is currently suffering. We love you very much, we are always with you, we are one family and one Church.”

    Antony (Sevryuk), for his part, assured the Patriarch of Antioch of support from Kirill. In addition, the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church called the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) children of “our Church” – that is, the MP.

    “The faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church listen with great attention to your strong and wise words in support of church unity, in support of the faithful of our Church, who today, as you mentioned, are going through the toughest persecution in Ukraine. It was hard to imagine that the times would come again when bishops, priests, and laymen would be imprisoned; when temples would be destroyed; when schismatics would seize churches and expel communities from them. Your words, statements of the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch, many of its hierarchs are a great strengthening and encouragement for the flock of our Church, especially for those who today are experiencing this terrible persecution,” Antony said to Patriarch John.

    The MP website also emphasized the participation of Russian diplomats in the divine service. Therefore, there is close cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of Antioch. Patriarch John is now, perhaps, the greatest ally of the Russian Orthodox Church and openly expresses his solidarity with the blood-thirsty patriarch.

    The Russian Orthodox Church provides financial and political support to both churches. Russia promises to protect Jerusalem from persecution and attacks by radicals in the Holy Land, and provides funds to the Antiochian Church to build shelters for orphans and war victims. It is holding both on a hook.

    According to an older plot conceived in the Kremlin, the Jerusalem patriarch should convene some meeting of the superiors to “discuss problems”, that is, to revive the failed Amman format. The ultimate goal is to squeeze from the patriarchs some criticism toward Patriarch Bartholomew and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and for it to be effective, they need as many leaders of the Churches as possible, especially the ancient patriarchates. Last time, the ardent friend of Russia, Patriarch John of Antioch, did not come to the Amman meeting because of the conflict over parishes in Qatar with the Jerusalem Church. The Eucharistic communication was even interrupted between Patriarchs Theophilos and John. Now the situation may change, thanks to the actions by Moscow, for the geopolitical benefit of the latter.

    According to Kirill’s adviser, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the Russian Church is ready to facilitate dialogue between Jerusalem and Antioch on the Qatar issue. “The future of Christianity in the Middle East as a whole is at stake today, and in these tragic circumstances, Patriarch John X of Antioch and the members of his Synod felt it necessary to rise above the still unresolved dispute over canonical jurisdiction in the Gulf. The prospects for the settlement still look quite uncertain. The Russian Orthodox Church is ready to do everything that depends on it to contribute to the success of further negotiations,” TASS quoted Balashov as saying. He noted that the Moscow Patriarchate has been expressing considerable attention to the Qatari problem.

    According to sources of the Spiritual Front of Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church may offer the Jerusalem Orthodox Church to make its parish in Qatar a courtyard (representative of the European Orthodox Church) on the canonical territory of the Antiochian Church. Thus, having resolved the long-standing dispute, the Russian Orthodox Church plans to oppose these two ancient patriarchates as a “single bloc” in their own struggle against the Ecumenical Patriarchate. At the same time, this would block the meeting of the Pentarchy, and open up new opportunities for the meeting of Amman.

    If the Russian Orthodox Church succeeds in reconciling Antioch and Jerusalem and bringing them together for a new joint meeting, it will only deepen the split in Orthodoxy, created by Moscow, because this would for a long time block the possibility of a meeting of the Pentarchy, the only body that can now judge the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church leadership. Meanwhile, the alternative “congregation” from the ROC’s “Amman assembly” will get a new impetus.

    The situation around the Russian Orthodox Church, the Antioch and Jerusalem Churches is important for understanding the future of world Orthodoxy. It is important to monitor the developments and give them an objective assessment.