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Russian Orthodox Church 'has done its utmost to avoid' rift with Constantinople

October 16, 2018, 0:12 UTC+3

"I don’t think the Russian Orthodox Church could have responded in any other way to what really drives Constantinople beyond the limits of the existing canons," a Church spokesman said

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Chairman of Moscow Patriarchate’s Synodal department for the Church’s relations with society and the mass media Vladimir Legoyda

Chairman of Moscow Patriarchate’s Synodal department for the Church’s relations with society and the mass media Vladimir Legoyda

© Sergey Fadeichev/TASS/Archive

MOSCOW, October 15. /TASS/. The Russian Orthodox Church has done its utmost to avoid the rupture of relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople but it was the only right decision, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Synodal department for the Church’s relations with society and mass media Vladimir Legoyda told TASS on Monday.

"I think the Russian Orthodox Church has done its utmost to avoid that. I believe we have nothing to blame ourselves for as we gave no grounds for such actions, which have triggered, as the Synod members stated today, Constantinople Patriarchate’s expelling itself from the canonical field of the Orthodox Church. I don’t think the Russian Orthodox Church could have responded in any other way to what really drives Constantinople beyond the limits of the existing canons and makes it impossible to maintain Eucharistic ties with it," he said.

Legoyda said he "is not ready to make any forecasts about how long this canonical situation we are in in relations with Constantinople could last."

"We do hope Constantinople will revise its decisions. We must be calm and act with understanding of the complexity of the situation but with a hope that it would get back to normal," he said.

Earlier in the day, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said it refused to recognize the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to grant Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine and announced its decision to sever Eucharistic ties with it.

On October 11, a Synod meeting of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided to "proceed to the granting of Autocephaly (self-governance) to the Church of Ukraine." The Synod revoked a legally binding status of the 1686 letter, which empowered the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev. In addition, the Synod decided to re-establish the office of the Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kiev, which means its head would be subordinate directly to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Moreover, the Synod lifted anathema from the heads of two non-canonical churches in Ukraine - Filaret of the Kiev Patriarchate, and Makary of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church and other local Orthodox Churches view these decisions as hostile and illegitimate and warn they might trigger a schism within the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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