22 May 2008, 11:40
Moscow, May 22, Interfax - Just after the invitation of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia that Patriarch Bartholomew can participate in the Ukrainian celebrations of the 1020th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in Russia, the Moscow Patriarchate said.
"Under church rules, it is the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia who is authorized to invite Constantinople Patriarch to take part in celebrations of the 1020th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in Russia," a secretary for inter-Orthodox relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolay Balashov told Interfax-Religion.
According to him, "in line with a stable and generally accepted church tradition, the leader of a local church may visit the territory that is under the jurisdiction of another local church only at the invitation of the leader of the latter."
At a recent meeting in Kiev with a Constantinople Patriarchate delegation, Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko passed on an invitation for Bartholomew to take part in July's festivities and urged Ukrainian believers to "rapprochement with the Mother Church of the Constantinople Patriarchate."
Though the Russian Orthodox Church's representative told the agency that he didn't "know that the Ukrainian authorities have obtained consent [for the invitation of Bartholomew I - IF] from either the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate or that of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, an autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate."
Fr. Nikolay reminded that the Russian Orthodox Church had been conducting a dialogue with the Constantinople Patriarchate on Ukraine's church situation and this dialogue was at times problematic.
"We believe that a certain obstacle to the dialogue's successful development was set by some Constantinople hierarchs' attitude to Ukrainian schismatic excommunicated groups that contradicts church rules," the interviewee of the agency said.
He is convinced that "local Orthodox Churches should take joint efforts to overcome existing schisms wherever they take place."
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