2010 strengthened ties between Orthodox Churches
The outgoing year saw a strengthening of the position of the Russian Orthodox Church – and a consolidation of Christian Orthodox churches of the world. One of the important events here was the overcoming of a schism between the Russian and the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.
For many years, some high-ranking Ukrainian politicians tried to drive a wedge between the Churches of the two fraternal Slavic nations. Actually, there are three separate Orthodox church organizations in Ukraine, but only one of them is recognized by influential Orthodox organizations of the world.
In the outgoing year, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, visited Ukraine three times. He met with Ukrainian believers and visited the country’s sacred places. As a result of His Holiness’s presence, the “fashion” for segregation in Ukraine seems to have been whittled down.
The Chairman of the PR department of the Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Hilary of Volokolamsk says:
“Patriarch Kirill’s visits to Ukraine help to bring the Ukrainian people togeteher. The schism between the two Churches, which appeared in the 1990s, was borne of ambitions of some Ukrainian politicians, rather than by any process in the Church itself. Now, more and more people in Ukraine have come to realize that the schism must be done away with. People are tired of separation. Thanks to Patriarch Kirill’s activities, many Ukrainians have returned from the segregated church to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate.”
The consolidation of Russian and Ukrainian believers has also facilitated the rapprochement of the Russian Church and the Constantinople Orthodox Church which is now headed by Patriarch Bartholomew. For many years, the relations between these two Churches were not very warm. One of the reasons was the fact that those favoring the schism in Ukraine had persuaded the Constantinople Patriarchate to back their interests. They hoped that the patronage of such an authoritative church organization would help them to separate from the Russian Church and become an autonomous organization. However, their plans have failed.
On invitation from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Bartholomew visited Russia this year. This visit not only warmed the relations between the Moscow and the Constantinople Patriarchates – it also doted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s in the problem of the Ukrainian schism.
Here is Metropolitan Hilary again: “Today, the level of mutual understanding between the Russian and the Constantinople Churches is rather high. Both sides are eager to continue their dialogue and to overcome all the disagreements of the past. Any misunderstanding must be solved through peaceful talks – and, fortunately, we can see such a dialogue emerging now.”
Besides Ukraine, in 2010, representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church visited other counties where there are Orthodox parishes as well. Most probably, the next year will see a grand event in the history of Orthodox Christianity – a Council of Orthodox hierarchs from all over the world. Preparations for such a council have been under way for a century already. Representatives of other Christian denominations have also expressed a wish to take part in this council.
This council will probably come down into history as the Eighth Ecumenical Council. The last – seventh - council which Orthodox Christians recognize as an Ecumenical Council, was in the year 787.
21 December 2010 The vioce of Russia