Moscow does not give up its attempts to hold its rogue “All-Orthodox Council”. As announced, the decision to assemble the top clerics to resolve the issue of church unity was made by Patriarch Theophilus of Jerusalem during his Moscow visit. It should be recalled that he came to the Russian capital to receive a kind of a bribe – the award of the International Public Fund for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples “For outstanding work toward strengthening the unity of Orthodox peoples. For the solidifying and promoting Christian values in public life,” the value of which has not been disclosed. It is noteworthy that it was after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Patriarch of Jerusalem voiced his proposal to convene this meeting to resolve church issues, including the Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
We have earlier analyzed these developments, suggesting that this “All-Orthodox Council” could be transformed into another “Kharkiv Council of 1992”, which will be attended only by clerics who echo the Moscow Patriarchate. After all, the initiative has sparked criticism and opposition on the part of some Orthodox Church leaders. However, a recent report says Patriarch John X of Antioch received an official invitation from the Patriarch of Jerusalem to attend the Council. The invitation was handed over by a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. So our assumption has been confirmed: it will be Moscow’s satellites who will attend the “Council”. We can again assume that the next step by Moscow will be to invite all dissenting bishops of the Churches who have recognized the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine: Constantinople, Alexandria, and Hellas.
The assumption is based on the recent decision by the ROC Synod on the OCU recognition by the Alexandrian Patriarchate. Long before the Synod, we had also assumed that Moscow would sever communication with the Church of Alexandria and, as in the case of the Hellenic Church, retain ties with and support the bishops who oppose the decision of their Church leaders, the so-called rogue hierarchs.
And that’s what actually happened. But there is one interesting detail: the Alexandria decision is different from that of the Hellas Church. After all, in response to the Patriarch of Alexandria recognizing the OCU, Moscow has openly interfered with the affairs another Orthodox Church. It is not even about the temples that the Russian Synod “snatched ” from Alexandria, it’s that the Synod started analyzing the procedure by which Patriarch Theodore made a decision to recognize the OCU, and even claimed that such decision “was not adopted at the October 7-9 meeting of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and not put to the bishops’ vote”, but was “accepted by the Primate of this Church personally.” That is, Moscow is already openly telling other Local Churches what decisions, and how, they should make at their Synods and Council.
Such boldness on the part of Moscow may indicate that the ROC is already trying on the status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – the status that Moscow seeks in holding the mentioned “All-Orthodox Council”. The logic is simple and straightforward – to gather everyone from everywhere, condemn Patriarch Bartholomew, and declare itself by the “Council” decision the top church in the Orthodox world, justifying the act by the need to “preserve purity of the Orthodox faith and unity of Churches”.
Moscow is ready to take on this “burden”, because there is no one but the world’s largest Church who has to ensure the preservation of Orthodoxy. Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev was the one who once voiced this idea. According to the ROC’s official website “December 28, 2019 at the mass feast at the end of the Liturgy in the Sretensky Stavropigial Monastery Kirill noted that it was thanks to Russia and the ROC that when ‘the Orthodox East was under the rule of Ottoman Turkey, its influence on global Orthodoxy was balanced by the power of the Russian Empire, and our brothers knew that there is a patron and protector of Orthodoxy – Holy Russia’.”
Kirill further stressed that this “defender of Orthodoxy” had allegedly lost state support and for some time even endured pressure from government. However, now the government, Kirill says, neither interferes nor puts pressure on the Moscow Patriarchate, unlike other Local Churches, which are oppressed by officials, and therefore, according to Gundyayev’s logic, the ROC “as the largest Local Church in the world bears a special responsibility for the unity of Orthodoxy”, therefore Kirill wants “the responsibility was recognized by the episcopate, the clergy, the monks, and all our believers.”
What we see is that Moscow is determined to intercept primacy in the Orthodox world and declare itself the new Vatican. It was for this reason that they forced Patriarch Theophilus of Jerusalem to initiate this “Assembly of Primates” for the purpose of resolving global church issues, in particular, the granting of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It is already known that this “Council” is to be held in Jordan in February under the patronage of the Jerusalem Church. It wasn’t by chance that Russia chose this church. Jerusalem is one of the ancient Patriarchates of the Orthodox Church, and is even referred to in some sources as the Mother of All Churches. It was in the Church of Jerusalem that Christ preached and worked miracles, and it was there that He was unjustly, because of the jealousy of the Jews, sentenced and crucified.
Now Moscow plans to desecrate these holy sites and for the sake of their own “canons” to sentence their own mother – the Ecumenical Patriarchate, from which it has received both the Orthodox faith and the canons, which they now interpret in their own way…