“We did not cave in to Moscow”: The Synod of the Czech Lands didn’t condemn their hierarchs' concelebration with the OCU bishops
The meeting of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia was held on December 17 in Prague.
The Synod adopted four resolutions, of which two relate to the internal life of this local Church and two to relations with other local churches. Ukrainian theologian Ilya Bey wrote in on Portal-Credo.Ru.
According to him, the Synod of Czech Lands did not succumb under the influence of Northern "Church capital" and did not satisfy their requests in full, even despite of a personal visit of the "foreign Minister" of the Russian Orthodox Church to Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Archbishop of Prešov and Slovakia.
The Synod, in particular, approved the proposal of Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem to hold a meeting of primates of local Churches in February 2020 in Jordan. Also, the Synod recalls the co-service of Bishop Isaiah of Šumperk with representatives of the OCU on November 20-21 in Kyiv.
In connection with the "misunderstanding", the Synod insists on its position, adopted at the February meeting, on maintaining a "restrained attitude" to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine until a pan-Orthodox consensus is reached on the issue of its autocephaly. The Synod also requires its members to respect this practice in their foreign activities.
"However, other members of the Synod themselves adhere to the stated position very inconsistently, since they enter into communication with the branch of the ROC in Ukraine, in which it is difficult to see "neutrality," the theologian notes.
"In any case, the absence of any canonical prohibitions in relation to Bishop Isaiah because of his co-service in the Church was indicative. After all, from the point of view of the Mother Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the only canonical Church in Ukraine is the OCU, and in the case of an appeal to Constantinople, Bishop Isaiah would not only be justified but, conversely, canonical prohibitions would await those synodals who made an illegal decision regarding their brother. The absence of sanctions for concelebration with those whom the Ukrainian branch of the ROC has defined as "excommunicated" in the decision of its Synod forces this Synod, if it wants to remain at least somewhat consistent, to recognize the entire episcopate of the Church of Czech Lands as "excommunicated". However, such a decision would only accelerate the further self-isolation of the Moscow Patriarchate from "universal Orthodoxy"," Ilya Bey stressed.