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No ban on Russian pilgrims to witness Holy Fire Miracle after break with Constantinople

The secretary of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem said they won’t be able to attend church services if the Patriarchate of Jerusalem supports the stance of Constantinople

TEL AVIV, October 16. /TASS/. Pilgrims from Russia will be able to witness the Miracle of Holy Fire that occurs every year in the Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem after the Moscow and Constantinople patriarchates have broken ties, the secretary of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, Hegumen Nikon, told TASS by phone on Tuesday.

However, they won’t be able to attend church services there if the Patriarchate of Jerusalem supports the stance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, he added.

"Everything will depend on how the Patriarchate of Jerusalem behaves. If it takes sides with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and allows pro-Filaret dissenters pray at Christ's tomb in its other churches, then we will have to stop concelebration, and thus our pilgrims won’t even have the canonical right to make communion at these church services," the hegumen said.

"As for welcoming the Holy Fire, I think this won’t prevent them (pilgrims from Russia) from attending, but they won’t have the right to take part in church services and liturgies," he added. The press service of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem makes no comment to journalists’ questions about the church crisis.

Last Thursday, the Holy and Sacred Synod the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided to reinstate the heads of two non-canonical churches in Ukraine, Filaret of the Kiev Patriarchate and Makariy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, to their hierarchical and priestly ranks. In addition, it announced plans to bring back the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and launch the process for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church, along with some Local Orthodox Churches, regard these moves as hostile and illegitimate, which can result in a profound schism within Orthodox Christianity.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in a statement on Monday that these moves "make it impossible for us to continue the Eucharistic communion with its (Constantinople’s) hierarchy, clergy and laity.".