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Moscow Embraces Schism

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During a meeting of clergy of the Moscow diocese which took place on 21 December in the council chamber of the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, a priest asked Patriarch Kirill if it would  be possible or not to commune on Mount Athos. Recall that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has decided to forbid laity from communing in churches dependent on Constantinople. The patriarch responded to the priest that "the Saint Panteleimon Monastery finds itself under the canonical dependence of the Patriarch of Constantinople. When I'm asked this question, I of course bless the pilgrimages to each [Athonite] monastery. But I do not bless participation in the sacraments of these monasteries, and this, in principle, extends to our monastery [Saint Panteleimon]. However, mechanically extending the ban to this one, this means in the first place to spiritually weaken it. However, the Saint Panteleimon monastery and its monks are the least responsible for the dangerous actions of Constantinople. Also, I consider that in our monastery [Saint Panteleimon], Russians can access the sacraments, by way of economy, that is, pastoral condescension."
https://orthodoxie.com/le-patriarche-de-moscou-cyrille-donne-sa-benediction-aux-pelerins-russes-pour-communier-au-monastere-saint-panteleimon-sur-le-mont-athos/

 

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Why treat the Russian monastery differently? They're under the EP just as much as the other monasteries.
 

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Gorazd said:
Why treat the Russian monastery differently? They're under the EP just as much as the other monasteries.
The answer is in the question, I suppose.
 

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Actually on this point I respect the MP’s decision; I wish they had not obstructed the laity from communing in EP churches, and in like manner I think it is disastrous that the EP is trying to shut down the Rue Daru metropolia, it comes across as vindictive.  For some time however the MP has been complaining of difficulties Russian monks who wish to live on Mount Athos have had in getting visas from the EP.

Iconodule, I think on the whole you have been extremely fair and your opinions extremely correct concerning this issue; I have to confess in this particular case I just do not understand your specific reasoning.  If you could help me out here, I will probably change my mind and agree with you.

~

My own view remains that the MP should have attempted to pre-empt this by giving Metropolitan Onufriy a Tomos of Autocephaly and a mandate to attempt to reconcile the KP and UAOC into his autocephalous Metropolis, with the idea being this could be reversed later once Ukrainian and Russian relations have a chance to heal.  And since that didn’t happen, I support the MP but really desire a regional church that is independent of the EP, not specific to Ukraine and not hostile to Moscow (for example, the massive expansion of the Polish church I half-jokingly proposed in an earlier thread).  I can’t support what is happening with the Rue Daru and the other belligerant actions the EP seems to be engaging in, their refusal to recognize the autocephaly of the OCA, and the idea that they have the unique power to grant and rescind autocephaly.
 

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The thread title is tongue in cheek; some pro-MP voices loudly declare the EP to be schismatic or even heretical, which is evidently not the MP's actual position, or they would not countenance allowing faithful to commune in a monastery belonging to said schismatic/ heretical body.

On the other hand I do think selectively allowing this at a Russian monastery, while maintaining the ban on the other Athonite monasteries- who are no more responsible for the EP's perilous actions than St Panteleimon- seems like a purely ethnically based concession.
 

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Iconodule said:
The thread title is tongue in cheek; some pro-MP voices loudly declare the EP to be schismatic or even heretical, which is evidently not the MP's actual position, or they would not countenance allowing faithful to commune in a monastery belonging to said schismatic/ heretical body.

On the other hand I do think selectively allowing this at a Russian monastery, while maintaining the ban on the other Athonite monasteries- who are no more responsible for the EP's perilous actions than St Panteleimon- seems like a purely ethnically based concession.
Very good.  I agree.
 

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Iconodule said:
The thread title is tongue in cheek; some pro-MP voices loudly declare the EP to be schismatic or even heretical, which is evidently not the MP's actual position, or they would not countenance allowing faithful to commune in a monastery belonging to said schismatic/ heretical body.
Yes, it is the MP's position since they said clearly they allow it only by ikonomia.

As for Rue Daru, I believe that it has much to do with Archbishop Job... let's see what will actually happen. Latest rumours are that the Romanian Patriarchate is willing to take them under their omophorion. By both taking in Rue Daru and recognising the OCU, Romania can assert an independent position regarding both Moscow and Constantinople.

Also, the OCU will not accept being "taken in" by Met. Onufriy, even if he were autocephalous. In the former UOC-KP, UAOC and Ukrainian Army* he remains widely seen as completely subservient to Moscow. The maximum would be a fusion of equals with a new sobor to elect a head of the church.

*since he refused to stand up for the fallen soldiers of ATO
 

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Gorazd said:
Iconodule said:
The thread title is tongue in cheek; some pro-MP voices loudly declare the EP to be schismatic or even heretical, which is evidently not the MP's actual position, or they would not countenance allowing faithful to commune in a monastery belonging to said schismatic/ heretical body.
Yes, it is the MP's position since they said clearly they allow it only by ikonomia.
Communion with schismatics by ikonomia? I don't think so, especially since this is a case of pilgrims visiting a place for a short period, and not a dire necessity where they cannot access a canonical priest for a long time. I have yet to see any official statement from the MP labeling the EP as a whole as schismatic or heretical.
 

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I think you hike to Mt. Athos from a connecting bus stop in Greece.
 

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Gorazd said:
Iconodule said:
The thread title is tongue in cheek; some pro-MP voices loudly declare the EP to be schismatic or even heretical, which is evidently not the MP's actual position, or they would not countenance allowing faithful to commune in a monastery belonging to said schismatic/ heretical body.
Yes, it is the MP's position since they said clearly they allow it only by ikonomia.

As for Rue Daru, I believe that it has much to do with Archbishop Job... let's see what will actually happen. Latest rumours are that the Romanian Patriarchate is willing to take them under their omophorion. By both taking in Rue Daru and recognising the OCU, Romania can assert an independent position regarding both Moscow and Constantinople.

Also, the OCU will not accept being "taken in" by Met. Onufriy, even if he were autocephalous. In the former UOC-KP, UAOC and Ukrainian Army* he remains widely seen as completely subservient to Moscow. The maximum would be a fusion of equals with a new sobor to elect a head of the church.

*since he refused to stand up for the fallen soldiers of ATO
If Romania recognizes the OCU as autocephalous Russia will excommunicate them, and the schism will be increased.  While it is true there is some tension between Romania and Russia chiefly over Moldavia (the MP has the Moldavian Orthodox Church whereas Bucharest setup a rival Bessarabian Orthodox Church, but the region between Moldovia and Ukraine, Transnistria, is a de facto suzerain protectorate of Russia), it is also true that in recent years the Romanian Patriarchate has been known as the second most gregarious Patriarch after the Patriarch of Alexandria.  They both attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the economically-minded churches which wisely chose to not expend funds on Crete to attend.

At any rate, it wouldn’t matter if the UOC-KP or the UAOC had agreed to go under the Omophorion of Metropolitan Onuphriy or not; had Moscow pre-empted the granting of autocephaly by the EP it would have made the ecclesiastical impropriety of Constantinople’s intervention even more apparent.

I myself think by the way that if Constantinople continues to stall over the Macedonian church, which would be extreme hypocrisy, by the way, but if that happens, the MP certainly won’t grant them autocephaly due to the warmth of MP-Serbian relations, but perhaps that could be a case where Romania or Alexandria or some other Patriarch threatened by Constantinople’s improper claims of supremacy could issue a Tomos of Autocephaly.  For that matter, I would love to see a Byzantine Rite church received into the Oriental Orthodox communion, but I am most hopeful that will occur with Antioch, which has already an extremely intimate relationship with its Syriac Orthodox counterpart, and which has been denied any justice under Canon 28 of Chalcedon.  If the two Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch were to unify, this would send a strong signal to Constantinople.  Although it would also possibly interfere with my desire for a Maronite Vicarate in the Antiochian Church.  It bothers me greatly we have the very pious Maronite people, subjected to unpleasant liturgical abuses in much of the diaspora and with no Orthodox alternative that lets them keep their distinct liturgy (which is similiar to but not the same as the Syriac Orthodox liturgy; it is closely related but the two are a bit like the Gallican and Mozarabic Rites of France and Spain; very close  cousins as it were but not identical twins).
 

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By the way, I should add, all these schisms are so distasteful.  There is no justification for the original schism of the UAOC and the UOC-KP from the MP, there is no justification for the current engorgement of this schism to the degree of separating the EP and all its constituent autonomous churches from the MP and all of its constituent churches, there is no justification for the Rue Daru remaining separate from ROCOR or the MP or the OCA, there is no justification for the dissolution of the Rue Daru, there is no justification for the intrusion of the JP into Antiochian territory and the resulting Constantinople-enforced schism between Antioch, the JP and, effectively, the EP, and there is no justification for the passive-aggressive semi-schism created by the refusal of the EP to recognize the autocephaly of the OCA.

For that matter, the only justification for the now-resolved schisms that separated Bulgaria, Albania and certain other countries from the EP was the refusal of the EP to follow the precedent of St. Cyril and Methodius and supply clergy who could celebrate the divine liturgy in the vernacular language.

Also, in all fairness to everyone, there is in my opinion no justification for the Church of Greece remaining outside the Ecumenical Patriarchate; this is purely an artifact of Turkocratia. 

Lastly, there is no justification for the continuation of the OO-EO schism, which is the most notorious and illegal schism of them all.  For me, that is my own personal Carthago Delenda Est.*

*A famous Roman senator, Cato the Elder, ended all of his speeches to the Roman senate by saying “Moreover, Carthage must be destroyed,” which is what Carthago Delenda Est means or refers to (the more literal Latin quote is “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam”).  For me, ending the EO-OO schism is my own personal Carthage, and until that Carthage is defeated, the addition of further ridiculous schisms like this tragedy in the Ukraine caused by the EP makes me feel the thunderous footsteps of Hannibal’s Elephants outside the gates of Holy Orthodoxy.
 

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The AP will remain EO (and with Moscow, if the EO communion breaks). I see no reason for them to "become OO". They're already in communion with Syriac OOs and they'll want to retain their links with the MP and EO Alexandria. They also have a strong Byzantine identity, in spite of the problems with the JP, and by extension the EP. (And btw, there are political reasons why Qatar can't be under the AP. We could discuss this in the politics forum).

As for the MP excommunicating entire autocephalous local churches that recognise the OCU, we will see in about a week. Actually, I am quite convinced that at least Greece with recognise the OCU, there also are rumours about Georgia and, as I said, Romania.

As for (North) Macedonia, the EP seems to be willing to do the same there as in Ukraine, but the name change needs to be finalised first in order to calm Greek nationalists. Also, since this probably means a break of communion with Serbia, I suppose the EP will be awaiting a suitable opportunity, for example if Serbia breaks communion first because of Ukraine.

 

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Pardon me for the silly comment, but what is happening now does not seem religious, rather political. I feel the Church is building a kingdom on earth. I couldn't see Christ on any side.

How will outsiders fill about the Church observing this? Can the Church have a moral to preach others to the faith? Was this the way the previous major schisms happened? Are Church leaders thinking how their decisions will hurt ordinary Christians, like me, for, may be, many years to come?

I feel, like I always do, that the major enemy of the Church is politics. And not merely politics, but the way the Church responds to it.
 

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Gorazd said:
The AP will remain EO (and with Moscow, if the EO communion breaks). I see no reason for them to "become OO". They're already in communion with Syriac OOs and they'll want to retain their links with the MP and EO Alexandria. They also have a strong Byzantine identity, in spite of the problems with the JP, and by extension the EP. (And btw, there are political reasons why Qatar can't be under the AP. We could discuss this in the politics forum).

As for the MP excommunicating entire autocephalous local churches that recognise the OCU, we will see in about a week. Actually, I am quite convinced that at least Greece with recognise the OCU, there also are rumours about Georgia and, as I said, Romania.

As for (North) Macedonia, the EP seems to be willing to do the same there as in Ukraine, but the name change needs to be finalised first in order to calm Greek nationalists. Also, since this probably means a break of communion with Serbia, I suppose the EP will be awaiting a suitable opportunity, for example if Serbia breaks communion first because of Ukraine.
Firstly, unlike your remarks, my suggestion that the Antiochian church actually become OO was intended as satire.  Antioch is already joined at the hip with the other Antioch, but having two Patriarchs of Antioch in the Oriental Orthodox Church would be strange and peculiar, and also if Antioch did that it would preclude the ministry to the Maronites which I desperately want more of, because Maronites are under the delusion that the Syriac Orthodox persecuted them in the seventh century (if this is true, why did the Maronites wind up with the strategically defensible mountain fortresses and survive in largr numbers, and wind up with a constitutionally guaranteed status in Lebanon, making it their national homeland, when the Syriac Orthodox have no homeland, have repeatedly been massacred in genocides, and so on?  But still, they have this hangup, and this will likely go away only after the Orthodox make major progress evangelizing them and we have a thousand more pious Maronite converts like Sharbel on OCNet, thus Antioch should stay what it is).

Actually my entire initial post about changing jurisdictions was satire, as my immediate follow up made clear.  My belief is that schisms are wrong and evil, and actions which create schisms are unjust and indefensible.  What the EP has done to Moscow, and what the JP has done with the EP’s approval to Antioch, are travesties of justice; the Roman Pope Leo X was almost infinitely more just when he excommunicated Martin Luther with the bull Exsurge, Domine, which is not saying much, in my opinion (the 95 theses were provocative, ecclesiastical discipline was warranted, but also some criticisms Luther put forward were valid and indeed the Roman church acted on several of the more valid objections raised by Luther at the Council of Trent). 

And as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.  No level of legitimate political criticism of the Russian Federation justifies schism from the holy Russian Orthodox Church which evangelized America, survived Communism, and gave us the most martyrs after the Turkish genocides, the church to which the majority of Orthodox Christians belong to, and the church which furthermore has demonstrated such exemplary piety that it was able to reunite with those portions of it which became detached into ROCOR in the Soviet crisis (not so much a normal schism as a canonical anomaly, since ROCOR appears to have been acting on emergency instructions smuggled out of the place in which St. Tikhon was been brutally imprisoned and would soon receive the crown of a Confessor or perhaps a Martyr); ROCOR for its part has managed to attract formerly priestless Old Believers, who are in a state which I consider schismatic and probably heretical (unlike the Old Believers who have priests, who are also increasingly warming up to the MP) into its midst.  Nothing could possibly justify seperation from the Church of St. Tikhon.

Now, whereas my post was satirical; do you realize that you are describing or even advocating a complete and likely permanent rupture in the Church?  If other churches recognize the “OCU” Moscow will correctly excommunicate them.  If the EP grants autocephaly to the Church of Macedonia, Serbia will excommunicate the EP.  if anyone dares to recognize either Macedonia or the schismatic OCU Russia and Serbia will excommunicate them.  And one can quickly see where this is headed:

There will be two Eastern Orthodox communions, a schismatic one under Constantinople consisting of those churches which were schismatic from Moscow or Belgrade, which Constantinople unjustly granted autocephaly to, and thus intruder on the territory of the ancient Russian and Serbian churches, and those churches that recognize the schismatic churches autocephaly as legitimate (thus far, Russia has very properly resisted expanding the schism by attempting to “blockade” Constantinople by excommunicating anyone in communion with them, which would be a schismatic act in my opinion), and a legitimate Orthodox church consisting of Russia, Serbia, Antioch, and probably, Bulgaria, the OCA, and Georgia (despite Georgia’s unpleasant relationship with the Russian Federation, there is a surprisingly healthy, revived relationship between the Church of Georgia and the Moscow Patriarchate driven by the extreme traditionalism of the Georgian church; it is much healthier than people would expect); I would not be surprised if other EO churches joined this legitimate branch.

But others, and I refuse to speculate who, will be part of an illegitimate communion.  But this will be a terrible, terrible tragedy, because basically, what will have happened is the dreadful schisms in Ukraine and Macedonia, which are like cancers afflicting the Orthodox Communion, will have been spread, by certain churches refusing to treat the cancer of these schisms appropriately, by exerting maximum pressure on non-canonical churches to return to communion with the churches from which they separated, and maximum pressure on the churches from which they separated to be generous and forgiving and furthermore to make assurances that there will be no nationalistic discrimination or impropriety.

  Note by the way, lest anyone misinterpret my post, that I am not referring to the schismatic churches as cancers, nor would I, as that would be unfair to the people who are inadvertantly caught up in these schisms; I am referring to the schisms themselves as cancers.  Entering into communion with a schismatic church in someone else’s legitimate canonical territory causes the cancer to spread.  Another analogy, an even better one: say the sleave on your dress shirt starts to rip.  If you quickly stitch it, it is fixed, but if you pull on it you can convert your dress shirt into an absurdist tank-top.

And such a garment will not do for those seeking admission to the Wedding Feast with our Lord.
 

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I didn't see your post marked as satire. I still don't.

As for a permanent rupture, I don't advocate that. And will it happen? Probably not, at least Bulgaria and Alexandria are likely to remain in communion with both sides. But the rupture has potential to deepen, and if Moscow breaks communion with every local church that recognises the OCU as autocephalous, they will be out of communion with a few more local churches soon. Then we have the North Macedonian issue, and there are rumours that some in Montenegro also want an autocephalous local church recognised by Constantinople... Who knows who else could get some ideas? Belarus?
 

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Gorazd said:
I didn't see your post marked as satire. I still don't.

As for a permanent rupture, I don't advocate that. And will it happen? Probably not, at least Bulgaria and Alexandria are likely to remain in communion with both sides. But the rupture has potential to deepen, and if Moscow breaks communion with every local church that recognises the OCU as autocephalous, they will be out of communion with a few more local churches soon. Then we have the North Macedonian issue, and there are rumours that some in Montenegro also want an autocephalous local church recognised by Constantinople... Who knows who else could get some ideas? Belarus?
1. Like most experienced OCNet members, I follow the established custom on this site of not specifically marking satirical posts.  If I recall, once, as one of the awesome things he does on occasion, Mor Ephrem explicitly marked every post of his that contained satirical content with a disclaimer, and it was hilarious. 

2. Churches which recognize the schismatic Ukrainian church, especially if in doing so, they cease to recognize the legitimate Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphriy, are breaking communion with Moscow, not vice versa.  Moscow is merely in declaring the excommunication of Constantinople is declaring that Constantinople excommunicated itself from Moscow by intruding on the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is a canonical autonomous church under the Patriarchate of Moscow, just as Antioch declared that Jerusalem had excommunicated themselves from Antioch by intruding on the Christian East, an area explicitly reserved for Antioch under Canon 28 of Chalcedon (which also limits Jerusalem to the Hagiopolis, Sinai and “the two Palestines”, by which I believe it means the former Roman province of Judea, and the region of Gallilea, and or what is now Israel and Palestine, plus Jordan; I can’t recall if the Orthodox churches in Jordan are under Antioch or Jerusalem).  I believe Antioch did sever direct communion with, or otherwise break off relationships with, Constantinople, for refusing to act on its Article 28 mandate to resolve inter-church disputes according to the canons; IIRC Antioch said Constantinople refused to rule or even reply to Antioch on the manner.

3. The Macedonians are out of luck unless they convince someone who bitterly resents both the MP and the EP to write them a tomos of autocephaly, since a double standard clearly applies, or else the Macedonian situation would have been addressed first by the EP as an emergency issue, since in Macedonia, there are virtually no canonical Orthodox parishes, and the Serbian Archbishop of Onrid was repeatedly arrested and physically abused in Macedonian prisons; consequently until that schism is resolved the Macedonian people have no canonically regular access to the sacraments.  This is a pastoral emergency, unlike the situation in Ukraine, where the UOC is the only church to have parishes in all parts of the country, even those separated from the Ukrainian government by the civil war, and Crimea.  So the situation in Ukraine frankly was not an urgent matter of pastoral care but rather merely a case of sordid ecclesiastical politics exploiting a geopolitical tragedy (the correct approach would have been for the EP to work as a neutral party to attempt to revolve the schism and promote the restoration of peace, love and harmony between the neighboring descendants of the Viking and Slavic founders of Kievan Rus, two peoples with a shared history and I believe, a shared future, who are surely as intertwined as the English and the Scots).

4. The schismatic church in Montenegro is tiny, the founder of it was arrested IIRC for embezzlement or some other financial crime, and no one goes to it.  Montenegrins continue to be a part of the Serbian church.  The “Montenegrin Orthodox Church” is one of a tiny number of microscopic, corrupt, non-Orthodox or marginal churches without a laity so to speak, along with the “Turkish Orthodox Church” and the “Croatian Orthodox Church.”  Frankly, more legitimacy is held by the the Portuguese Orthodox Church and the Holy Synod of Milan, and most other so-called vagante jurisdictions (some of which have yielded fruit, like the BOC, which gave us St. George’s Mission and Fr. Peter Farrington, or the Evangelical Orthodox Church and the bizarre cult known as HOOM, both of which caused mass conversions to Holy Orthodoxy).  A Montenegrin Orthodox Church is scarcely more likely than a Kosovar Orthodox Church, a Srpska Orthodox Church, a Metohijan Orthodox Church, and a Vojvodinan Orthodox Church.

5. Given the relative lack of animosity between Belarus and Russia on a political level, I can think of no reason why a schismatic church would appear in Belarus.  But if one did, it would be illegitimate, because the autonomous Belarussian Orthodox Church is the legitimate and canonical Eastern Orthodox Church in Minsk.  By the way, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Minsk has a fantastic choir; their albums on iTunes and Apple Music are exquisite, particularly Golden Orthodox Chants; on a whole they are surpassed only by the Kyiv Chamber Orchestra and the choir of the New Valaam Monastery when it comes to Slavonic church music, in my opinion; they are on a par with the celebrated Choir of the Orthodox Cathedral of Paris and the Choir of Danilov Monastery, which has done some splendid recordings of ancient Russian church music with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, who aside from being a standup bishop, is also an immensely talented musicologist and a composer (Capella Romana recorded his exquisite St. Matthew’s Passion).

There is simply no reason for the large number of autonomous Orthodox churches happily  under the Omophorion of Moscow to break away.  I think there are more autonomous Orthodox churches under Moscow than any other Patriarchate; in addition to ROCOR, the canonical Orthodox churches of Japan, Kazakhstan and the other Stans, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova are all under the Omophorion of the MP; also, historically the suppressed Chinese Orthodox Church was under the MP, and I believe the MP still has parishes in Hong Kong; also, the MP has a regular diocese in the United States descended from the 75 Orthodox parishes which declined, during the Soviet crisis, to join either the Metropolia (which later became the autocephalous OCA) or ROCOR.  I think there are at least 30 of these Patriarchal parishes left.  Their cathedral in Wilkes-Barre (which also has an OCA and a ROCOR cathedral I think; Eastern Pennsylvania is not without justification nicknamed The Fourth Rome by American Orthodox) has a beautiful choir, one of the best in the US.

Now, despite my love for the Russian Orthodox Church, I do not believe it to be without blemish; in particular the RolexGate scandal a few years ago was embarassing, and as I have said before I believe the MP might have pre-empted or prevented the current crisis, had they been willing to forfeit their rightfully held canonical church in Ukraine, but I can understand why they would not have wanted to do that.  Frankly, if you were the MP, would you just walk away from the birthplace of your civilization? 
 

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Reminds me of a dirty history of pogrom and genocide...
 
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