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Metropolitan Hilarion recounts the formation of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa

The decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church to take 102 clerics of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria from eight African countries under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate and to form a Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa has become resonant.

Due to the Patriarch of Alexandria’s acknowledgement of the Ukrainian schism and con-celebration with the head of the schismatic ‘OCU’, a part of the clergy of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, having declared their disagreement with the Primate’s stand, appealed to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to take them in the fold of the Russian Orthodox Church. Now no fewer than one hundred parishes headed by their rectors have already declared their wish to move to the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Church refrained from a positive response to these petitions in the hope that Patriarch Theodore would change his decision and the hierarchs of the Church of Alexandria would not support the legalization of the Ukrainian schism, but this did not happen. For this reason, the Holy Synod at its session on December 29, 2021, stated the impossibility for another refusal to the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, who handed over the appropriate petitions, to take them under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Commenting on this decision on the air of the Church and the World TV program, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, assumed that it would involve accusations by those who, for quite a number of years, have waged a struggle against the Russian Orthodox Church. “These forces are headed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople which has adopted a lawless and anti-canonical decision concerning the Ukrainian Church”, His Eminence noted.

He stressed, “We would have not step into Africa if it had not been for the persistent requests of the African clergy, who appealed to us soon after the Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria joined the schism. The first such appeal was made two years ago. We have patiently waited. We studied the appeals of the clergy who handed in their petitions. We sent various signals to the Patriarch of Alexandria that we would not like to step into the territory of Africa. But when our proposals were turned down, when the Patriarch of Alexandria showed that he was not going to change his stand on Ukraine, what was left for us to do? For this reason, now those who have appealed to us have been accepted”.

As the DECR chairman noted, along with these 102 clergy, there are other clerics in African countries who wish to join the Russian Orthodox Church. “And we shall accept them as well”, the hierarch said.

“The point is not about invasion at all or about our wish to weaken in some way the Patriarchate of Alexandria”, Metropolitan Hilarion stated stressing that the decision of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church offers an opportunity for Orthodox believers in African countries who do not wish to be associated with the schism, “to be in communion with a canonical Orthodox Church and to receive Holy Communion and other Sacraments from canonical priests”.

 

DECR Communication Service

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