Category Archives: Inter-Orthodox Relations

Dispatches from the Western Front The Future of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe

by Paul Ladouceur

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Paris

With all the attention devoted to the Eastern Front (the Ukraine) in the trench warfare between the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP) and the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) for preeminence in Orthodoxy, the Western Front is largely ignored. The EP opened the Western Front on November 27, 2018, when it unexpectedly annulled its decree (tomos) of June 19, 1999, establishing the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe as an EP exarchate, thereby placing the parishes of the Archdiocese under the EP’s metropolitans in their respective countries. Subsequently many priests of the exarchate received letters from EP metropolitans in Western Europe ordering them to cease commemorating Archbishop Jean (Renneteau), head of the Archdiocese, but rather the Ecumenical Patriarch and the local EP metropolitan.

The Archdiocese has a long and glorious history. It was established in April 1921 by St. Tikhon (Belavin), Patriarch of Moscow, to serve the needs of the Russian refugees in Western Europe fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution and the civil war. Continue reading

The Voice of Silence: A Monastic Voice on the Ukrainian Question

by Mother Abbess Theoxeni

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle will soon be publishing a collection of essays titled The Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ukraine Autocephaly: Historical, Canonical, and Pastoral Perspectives. The collection will include twelve papers by eminent clergy and laity related to the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. We are pleased to offer our readers an exclusive preview by Mother Abbess Theoxeni: “The Voice of Silence: A Monastic Voice on the Ukrainian Question.”

“Evil is erroneous judgment concerning the conceptual images of things.” – Saint Maximus the Confessor (Chapters on Love, 2.17)

The decades-long schism in Ukrainian church life has created polarization not only between ecclesiastical jurisdictions, but also in the hearts of the people.

Saint Maximus described erroneous judgment concerning the conceptual images of things as evil. Similarly, a mistaken assessment of the complicated situation that has prevailed for many years in Ukraine has led to an accumulation of many evils, producing deep social division and a rift in the ecclesiastical body with countless tragic consequences.

In the Orthodox Church we pray “for the welfare of the holy churches of God and the union of all [people],” and we invoke the unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit. This means that the Holy Spirit is to be found in unity and that the gifts of the Holy Spirit activate unity. How indeed can there be unity when we do not live in accordance with those gifts which Saint Paul names as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5.22)? Continue reading

Filaret’s Final Act and the Future of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine

by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Denysenko

In the four months that have elapsed since the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP) granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), the process of adjusting to the new situation has been challenging for both the OCU and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). The OCU has been enduring the growing pains of stabilizing Church life after the unification council, while the UOC-MP has sought to sustain its inner unity and keep parishes from migrating to the new church.

Recently, a new wrinkle has emerged in the Ukrainian Church situation. In a series of interviews with the Ukrainian media, Filaret, the former patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), insists that he remains patriarch and that he is governing the OCU together with Metropolitan Epifaniy, primate of the OCU. Filaret has also suggested that the OCU can immediately elevate its status from a metropolia to a patriarchate by convoking an All-Ukrainian council and revising the Church’s statute.

Filaret’s public position on the situation of the Ukrainian Church compromised the situation when he invited numerous bishops of the OCU to St. Volodymyr cathedral in Kyiv for the commemoration of St. Macarius, Metropolitan of Kyiv on May 14. Metropolitan Epifaniy was not initially invited to the celebration. Continue reading

Schismophrenia: A Reflection on Ukrainian Autocephaly

by Fr. Bohdan Hladio

“No earthly joy exists unmingled with sorrow” —St. John of Damascus

We are all no doubt aware of the controversy surrounding the recent proclamation of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. As a Ukrainian Orthodox priest, I cannot help but see how St. John’s words are an apt description of the situation of the Orthodox Church in general and myself personally.

I recently traveled to Ukraine, visited friends in previously “non-canonical” churches and monasteries, and was able to serve the Liturgy with them. This brought much joy to us all. For most Orthodox Ukrainians the recognition of the Church in Ukraine as worthy of autocephaly is the correction of an historical injustice, the righting of an ecclesial wrong.

Yet I have friends within various Orthodox churches here in North America who see this proclamation of autocephaly as a source of sorrow. And I have trouble understanding why. Continue reading