24 June 2008, 18:35
Moscow, June 24, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia has criticized actions of the Constantinople Patriarchate aimed at blowing up unity in Orthodox world.
"The Estonian question has recently aggravated the relations between the two Patriarchates. Constantinople still has not completed the agreements approved by the Russian Orthodox as the last concession to prevent schism of Orthodox world. It complicates our further work on overcoming splits between Orthodox believers in Estonia," the patriarch said at a session of the Bishop's Council in Moscow on Tuesday.
According to him, Constantinople representatives have strived to achieve recognition of their church structure as an autonomous local Church in Estonia on pan-Orthodox level, though only one eighth of the country's Orthodox believers belong to it."
"No autocephalous Orthodox Church has officially reported its recognition. But persistent efforts to achieve it "without prior arrangement" clouded some important pan-Orthodox events," the Patriarch stated.
He reminded that representatives of the Constantinople Estonian structure were invited to participate in the Mixed Orthodox-Catholic Commission on theological dialogue "without any prior approval" as an official delegation, which made further work of the Moscow Patriarchate's delegation impossible.
"The same can happen to the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the meeting of the local Orthodox primates in Istanbul planned this fall. To find the way out of this complicated situation affecting Orthodox witness, talks between delegations of the two Patriarchates were conducted in Zurich in March 2008. But the way to accord is likely to be long and difficult," Alexy II said.
He also noted that official statements of Constantinople hierarchs on Ukrainian church question "more than once declared that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir is the only canonical Church of Ukraine."
"However, when representatives of the Constantinople Church visited Ukraine, their actions in the country could be interpreted as backing up schismatic groups and the Constantinople side was warned against it on March talks in Zurich. Such actions cause our grief as they affect overcoming the schism," Patriarch Alexy said.
According to him, the Moscow Patriarchate is also concerned by the Constantinople's efforts "to spread its church jurisdiction to the territory of the Chinese Autonomous Church."
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