At the end of November last year, Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem visited Moscow. Judging by the fact that he met the President Vladimir Putin during his brief visit, the initiative came from the Kremlin. The Patriarch of Jerusalem “owns the scraps” – an ideologically significant miracle of the ascension of the Graceful Fire on Easter Eve, which is then carried by airplanes to all dioceses of the ROC. A multimillion-dollar Russian television audience watches a miracle live, with commentators explaining that the fire is sent from heaven only to the true church, and when the miracle is over, the end of the world will come. Patriarch Theophilus III 10 years ago tried to modestly explain that fire did not come straight from heaven, but was a symbolic “representation” of how the light of the Resurrection has scattered around the world from the Holy Sepulcher. But the patriarch remained unheard in Russia.
As Jerusalem now visits no less pilgrims from Ukraine than from Russia, and the small Greek patriarchy survives in the Jewish state only due to spendings of pilgrims, there is a real possibility for the OCU to be recognized in Jerusalem as well, which would break the television thesis of “the fire is sent from heaven only to the true church”. (after all, the OCU is in the words of the ROC “schismatic”). In Moscow, Theophilus III made a number of serious proposals, a visible sign of what was presented to him in the temple of Christ the Savior of the Prize of the Unity Fund of Orthodox Peoples. In response, the Primate of Jerusalem invited all his colleagues, led by Patriarchs Bartholomew and Cyril, to a summit in Jordan’s capital Amman, where he wanted to reconcile them and find some way out of the “Ukrainian crisis”. So far, no one, except Cyril, has officially confirmed his participation in the summit. Moreover, Patriarch Bartholomew wrote his refusal in a categorical manner, and the Archbishop of Cyprus did not explicitly respond to the invitation. It is difficult to see what other efforts Moscow can make to carry out the summit in Amman.
A number of foreign policy defeats of the Moscow Patriarchate are reflected in Patriarch Kirill’s influence on Russia’s internal politics. This is undoubtedly seen and felt in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the ROC’s last authoritative bastion.
Putin’s personal meeting with the Patriarch of Jerusalem showed that the Kremlin has to take over, in “manual control”, even in a purely church order. Of course, there are no grounds for radical predictions – no one will immediately send Patriarch Cyril to resign and replace him with “President’s clergyman” Tikhon (Shevkunov). But Cyril will definitely be uncomfortable and unusual in the marginal political niche, to which he was sent not only by foreign policy failures, but also by scandals that periodically occur in the Russian media around his name and his leadership.