His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia shared a festive repast at the Kiev Monastery of the Caves after celebrating the Divine Liturgy together on 27 July 2008 on St. Vladimir’s Mount.
After the meal they had talks at the residence of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine. After their meeting for over an hour they were joined by Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutisy and Kolomna and Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, as well as the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
After the meeting the heads of the two Churches held a briefing for the mass media.
His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew made a high assessment of the meeting. He said it was always useful to have frank talks, especially in cases of some problems in relations between Churches.
‘In the talk with His Holiness Patriarch Alexy, we have renewed the determination we showed before to work for the development of relations’, the Primate of the Church of Constantinople said, adding, ‘we all bear responsibility for the inter-Orthodox unity’.
He also told journalists that they considered actions enabling His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia to participate in the meeting of primates of Orthodox Churches planned to take place in October at Fanar and in other events devoted to the Year of St. Paul.
Patriarch Alexy thanked Patriarch Bartholomew for his concelebration in the Divine Liturgy and ‘for his participation in the fraternal repast and the frank talk’.
‘We have agreed that all the difficulties in relations between our two Churches – and problems can arise in every family – should be resolved through dialogue’, Patriarch Alexy stressed, noting that disputable and acute problems were posed in the talk.
According to Patriarch Alexy, an agreement was reached that delegations of the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow would get down to preparing decisions to meet the interests of the both Churches.
Answering questions from journalists, Metropolitan Kirill expressed the conviction that the meeting between the two Patriarchs became a very important event. ‘We very much hope that it has really given a new breath to our bilateral relations’, he said.
According to His Eminence Kirill, His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew expressed his attitude very clearly: the church division in Ukraine should be overcome in a canonical way. And Patriarch Alexy fully shared this attitude, the DECR chairman stressed.
‘It is a very important starting point to be followed by dialogue, and we shall think how this idea can be realized in the present situation in the best possible way’, the metropolitan said.
He also noted that the main result of the meeting was that it testified to full unity not only between the two patriarchs but among all the Local Orthodox Churches with regard to the need to preserve canonical order in the world Orthodoxy
and to prevent the use of non-canonical means for creating any church structures anywhere.
‘I believe the two patriarchs gave a very important and essentially positive testimony first during today’s service and then in their meeting’, Metropolitan Kirill said.
He also indicated that the theme of the separation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate was not on the agenda. It exists, he believes, only ‘in some heads’.
‘It is very important, as the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church has said, that political projects should not interfere in church life and destroy it; in relations between Churches no actions should be taken under the influence of political factors to inflict an irreparable damage on Orthodoxy’, Metropolitan Kirill said answering questions from journalists after the briefing.
DECR Communication Service
Patriarch Alexy: Unity of Russian Orthodoxy cannot impede full-fledged life of sovereign state Printer friendly
The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church greeted His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia on the occasion of the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia after they celebrated the Divine Liturgy on 27 July 2008 at the Monument to the Holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles on St. Vladimir’s Mount in down town Kiev. ‘Venerating the Holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles, we also remember St. Andrew the First Called and other enlighteners in the Spirit and Truth who tread our God-elected land’, His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine said. This man of God who baptized Russia, he continued, not only enlightens us but also reminds the faithful of the Russian Church of the great achievement he made 1020 years ago, as ‘we received one baptism in the Dnieper and we have one faith which strengthens us in Christ Jesus, and one invariable and continuous hope, which is salvation’. Addressing the primates and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches who came to Kiev for the celebrations, as well as archpastors, pastors and numerous pilgrims, His Beatitude Vladimir noted with regret that the celebrations were taking place in a situation of divisions so ‘painful for our hearts’. ‘On the body of the Church there is an abscess, a schism, a bleeding wound which cannot but disturb all believers and even non-believers’, His Beatitude stressed, adding that ‘the schism that has engulfed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kiev and in other place is our pain and sorrow’. Metropolitan Vladimir expressed hope that with time love would prevail and the confusion, through the intercession of St. Vladimir’, would leave the Church, and peace and devotion would reign in Ukraine. “Ill in our hearts today, we say together with St. Gregory the Theologian that we do not seek unity so that we could be glorified, but we seek unity and mutual understanding because our hearts are suffering indeed for those who are not with us’, he said. The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church presented His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew with a pectoral icon and a cross for prayerful memory. In his response, the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople spoke about the missionary work the Constantinopolitan clergy carried out in the early 10th century for the enlightenment of Russia and about the Holy Princess Olga, the grandmother of St. Vladimir the Enlightener of Russia who adopted baptism. Patriarch Bartholomew made a high assessment of the work carried out by Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia for preserving the fruits of the Baptism in the hard years of persecution against faith and of his efforts for preserving Orthodox unity today. The primate of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople also expressed a deep regret at the existence of a church division in Ukraine today. Patriarch Bartholomew gave Patriarch Alexy a bishop’s staff as a token and presented Metropolitan Vladimir with an icon of St. Vladimir as his patron saint. ‘It was through the zeal and feat of the Holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles that the Russian land was enlightened by water and the Spirit. With time the light of this Baptism spread from the Baltic and to the Far East, from the northern seas to the deserts of Central Asia. It became possible because a devoted and strong Christian nation was born out of the multitude of tribes in the Kievan font’, Patriarch Alexy said in his greetings after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. Vladimir’s Mount. According to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kiev remains to be ‘the Mother of Russian cities’; it is also the southern capital of Russian Orthodoxy. It is necessary today as never before to cherish history, otherwise ‘we will endanger our common future’, Patriarch Alexy noted. ‘And we thank Your Holiness today for the commitment you have expressed to the canonical traditions of the Church. It is on this unshakable foundation that the well-being of the Local Churches and the orderly edifice of Orthodox unity should be built’, Patriarch Alexy said, recalling that throughout her history the Russian Orthodox Church ‘has actively worked for the prosperity of the entire Orthodox world’, and her faithful shed their blood ‘for the freedom and well-being of their brothers in Greece, in the Balkans and the Middle East not on one occasion’. Patriarch Alexy II described this service as selfless and assured the congregation that ‘today just as before the Russian Church is ready to promote the unity and well-being of the Orthodox world’. ‘The unity of Russian Orthodoxy cannot impede the full-fledged life of the sovereign states, successors of the Kievan Russia. Our Church respects their sovereignty and is interested in the consolidation and prosperity of their peoples. She is open to the closest possible cooperation with the authorities in each of these countries on the basis of the gospel’s values’, the patriarch underscored. His Holiness called those who are not in salvific communion with the Russian Orthodox Church to remember that ‘we all are brothers and sisters’ who belong to the same faith and have the same history, and ‘our hearts and arms are open to you’. ‘You are concerned for the well-being of the Ukrainian people, but it is our concern, too. The Russian Church has created all the conditions for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir to live in full freedom and to fulfill her pastoral task of care for the Ukrainian people’, His Holiness Alexy said addressing Patriarch Bartholomew. According to Patriarch Alexy, this mission of Metropolitan Vladimir is fully compatible with the task of preserving the unity of Russian Orthodoxy. The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church thanked His Holiness Bartholomew for his kind words and commemorative gift and said in conclusion, ‘From my heart I thank His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine and all the Most Reverend archpastors of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and, most importantly, the people of God for the warm welcome and organization of today’s celebrations’. After the service, a procession with the cross consisting of thousands of worshippers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and other countries marched to the Kiev Monastery of the Caves.