MINSK, October 15. /TASS/. A meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church presided over by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has started in Minsk. It focuses on evaluating the actions by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine and hammering out the Russian Church’s retaliatory measures, TASS reports.
"We are starting a meeting of the Holy Synod a bit later. The reason is very important - we had a substantial conversation with President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko," Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill said.
"We discussed a range of issues related to the life of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, intra-Orthodox and intra-Christian relations. Such meetings give a possibility to understand the interlocutor’s stance," Patriarch Kirill said.
Metropolitan of Kiev Onufriy has also arrived for the meeting.
The response of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Synod to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople over Ukraine will be "appropriate and tough", Reverend Alexander Volkov, press secretary of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, told reporters on Saturday.
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 split within the Eastern Orthodox Church.