Never did I expect to experience such great pain in my declining years, as I felt with the announcement of the decisions of the Moscow Patriarchate to infiltrate—in a completely shameless way—the African continent, too!
The plans of Panslavism and the idea of the Third Rome have been well known for centuries now, and have been promoted consistently by Russian leaders of any political regime, whether tsarist, communist or democratic. However, seeing them implemented now makes me very disappointed in the Moscow Patriarchate and I feel deeply sorry for my Russian brothers and sisters, whom I have loved so much since I was a child and whom for decades I have served both in my current Province and, previously, in Korea. It was my belief until today that no matter how much current political rulers may exert pressure on the Church in Russia, the Church’s leaders would not back down in their commitment to the Faith, and would follow the holy witness of the majority of its pastors under Stalin. In other words, I believed, perhaps naively, that they would not unilaterally delete the Canon Law of the Orthodox Church in order to extend their power.
I think that honest historians, whether ecclesiastical or secular, at the present or tomorrow, will read the reasoning of the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate stating that: “The Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate declared it impossible to refuse further to the clergy of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, who applied for membership in the Patriarchate of Moscow” and therefore “decided to create a Patriarchal Exarchate in Africa under the title Klinsky”, and will have no doubt that the rulers of the Moscow Patriarchate have ceased to think ecclesiastically and have become, tragically but unsurprisingly, part of the expansionist Russian policy. They will ask: Since when does the Church obey the requests of some clergy of another jurisdiction (if this is not a false pretext for the naive) and proceed to create irregular ecclesiastical structures? If this was the tradition of the Church, then we would have a number of similar illegal acts, because there are always some clergymen who, for their own personal reasons ask for irrational things.
In the nearly half a century that I have been in Korea and in recent years in Pisidia, I have received many similar “requests” from clergy and laity, dissatisfied with the Moscow Patriarchate, which I never fulfilled, but instead always advised those making them to remain obedient to their ecclesiastical authority.
The ancient and historic Patriarchate of Alexandria, founded by the apostle Mark, has given birth in Christ to the thousands of today’s Orthodox Africans. Who would abandon such a fountain of divine grace and rich spiritual legacy? Without knowing how true the information is about the “requests” of 102 African clergy from eight African countries to join the Moscow Patriarchate, and also without knowing any of the “daredevils” personally I can assure from my experience that not one of them will be a serious clergyman with an ecclesiastical mindset and ethos, but he will instead be an opportunist and self-seeker of the worst kind. Just as some Asian priests in the past joined ROCOR because they wanted to be independent of their regular Diocese and were enchanted by the Russian hierarchical mitre.
After this great impropriety of the Moscow Patriarchate against the Patriarchate of Alexandria, but also after all the illegal and irregular actions it has done and is still doing to its Mother and Provider, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople—even within the centuries-old Headquarters in Constantinople!—the coup against the Patriarchate of Alexandria was, for the logic of the Muscovites, simply the “natural” continuation of all their illegal decisions that were launched long before their illegal actions. And now let us wait to see the same thing happen in the Autocephalous Churches of Cyprus, and Greece, and elsewhere!
Let those who voluntarily or involuntarily support the illegal actions of the Moscow Patriarchate wake up and understand what evil the Orthodox Church will find itself in if it continues using the tactics of the Protestant Reformation to establish Russian sects wherever they want. Let all those responsible for this tragic calamity think about the great evil that will be done in the sacred cause of the evangelization of our African brothers and sisters, and how much the devil will rejoice.
Maybe the time has come for the Orthodox Church to decide synodically on the issue, as it did in 1872 condemning such rampant ethnocentrism and ecclesiological self-destruction?
+ Sotirios Metropolitan of Pisidia