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Metropolitan Hilarion on summit of primates in foreseeable future & other news

amman patriarchi ortodossi 1(Peter Anderson) On April 6, RIA Novosti posted an interview with Metropolitan Hilarion.  (link)  On the same day, the DECR of the Moscow Patriarchate posted the interview both in Russian and English. (link) (English)   Usually, there is a delay on the DECR website for an English translation, but not this time.  The caption of the interview is entitled: “Metropolitan Hilarion: Summit of the heads of Churches is possible in foreseeable future.”  The first question in the interview is whether Patriarch Theophilos or any other Church leader was planning another meeting of the kind of the Amman summit this year.  The answer provided by Metropolitan Hilarion is as follows:

I would like to point out that all the delegations that took part in the Amman meeting last February expressed their intention to continue the brotherly meetings of the heads and representatives of Local Churches.  Back then they expressed their wish, as is specified in the Communique, to come together again “preferably before the end of the year.”  Of course, at that time none of us expected the pandemic and that many plans would not be destined to be carried out.  No wonder then that a year after the Amman meeting, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem in his message recalled the plans outlined at that time.  Although the risk of the Covid morbidity in the world is still high, quarantine measures are gradually being weakened in some countries, as the number of people with immunity to this disease is growing because some have already had it and others have had the vaccination against it.  Under these circumstances, the prospects for a new meeting of the Heads in the foreseeable future look promising.  However, I think that to speak about concrete dates is early yet.  I would like to remind you that Patriarch Theophilos was the initiator of the meeting last year.  I suppose that next meeting, if it is to take place, would be called together also by him as the Head of the Jerusalem Church, the Mother of all Churches.  The Russian Orthodox Church, for its part, welcomes the conducting of this kind of events looking for ways out from the crisis among the Orthodox and for the re-establishment of their unity.

It should first be noted that Ukraine is mentioned nowhere in this answer.  Rather, the purpose of the meeting is “looking for ways out from the crisis among the Orthodox and for the re-establishment of their unity.”  This is not surprising.  At the Amman meeting in February 2020, Patriarch Kirill enumerated six issues that needed to be discussed on a pan-Orthodox basis.  (link) Patriarch Kirill’s articulation of these six issues did not mention Ukraine specifically, but rather addressed certain powers that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is claiming to possess generally.   Presumably, the Moscow Patriarchate hopes that the future meeting, hosted by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, will focus on these same issues and will decide that the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not possess such powers.  This would be a great victory for Moscow and a defeat for Constantinople.  On the other hand, the discussion by the primates relating to a possible compromise between the UOC-MP and the OCU in Ukraine would be very dangerous for the Moscow Patriarchate because a suggested solution may involve the formation of a single autocephalous church in Ukraine and a departure of the UOC-MP from the Moscow Patriarchate.  For the same reason, the Moscow Patriarchate may not be interested in the primates discussing ways in which peaceful relationships between the UOC-MP and the OCU may be encouraged as this could also be the first step in creating a single autocephalous church in Ukraine.  In light of this, it is entirely logical for the Moscow Patriarchate to promote a discussion to undercut the powers claimed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in general terms as opposed to focusing on specific solutions for Ukraine.

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