On September 14, 2018, in the patriarchal and synodal residence of Saint Daniel’s Monastery in Moscow, Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church met in an extraordinary session.
The permanent members of the Holy Synod are: Metropolitan Onufyi of Kyiv and All Ukraine; Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna; Metropolitan Vladimir of Chişinău and All Moldavia: Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan, the chairman of the Metropolitan District of the Republic of Khazastan; Metropolitan Vincent of Tashkent and Uzbekistan, the chairman of the Metropolitan District of Central Asia; Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, the Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate; Metropolitan Paul of Minsk and Zaslavsk, the patriarchal exarch of all Belarus; Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the President of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate. Others were invited to the winter session of the Holy Synod (September-February): Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol; Metropolitan Sergy of Barnaul and Altai; Bishop Lazarus of Narva and Peipsiveere; Bishop Benjamin of Rybinsk and Danilov; Bishop Nicholas of Nakhodka and Preobrazhensk.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia delivered the opening speech. “Today, there is only one question on the agenda, related to the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to send so-called exarchs to the Ukraine.
On September 8, our Synod has already made a declaration concerning the decision adopted by the Synod of Constantinople to send such representatives. We now have reliable information that they arrived in the Ukraine and have started to work”, Patriarch Kirill said as he opened the session.
For health reasons, Metropolitan Onufryi of Kyiv and All Ukraine was not able to attend the session. A video conference was set up, during which Metropolitan Onufryi communicated with the members of the Synod on the situation resulting from the appointment in the Ukraine of hierarchs belonging to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
“Indeed, the two so-called exarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have arrived in the Ukraine,” confirmed Metropolitan Onufryi. One was appointed to lead the negotiations with the so-called patriarch Filaret. The other for talks with “Metropolitan” Macarius, head of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church”. We have not met with the “exarchs” and have no intention to do so, because they came here without our blessing. As representatives of the canonical Church in the Ukraine, we will not communicate with them. But we will follow the development of events”, he added.
Based on the communication by Metropolitan Onufryi, the members of the Synod will make decisions on the issue. Greeting His Beatitude Onufryi, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill expressed the hope that the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “will continue on the only right path, that is, to carry out its ministry in accordance with the canons of the Orthodox Church.”
“The sending of these so-called exarchs reflects what the Patriarch of Constantinople did in the 1920s, when our Church, led then by His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, was in the most difficult conditions, continued the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. The patriarch felt very much pressured by the the civil powers, by the schismatic organization inspired by them, and by the renovated ‘Church’ which was gaining strength. So Patriarch Gregory VII of Constantinople took the decision to send a so-called commission to Moscow, allegedly at the request of some Orthodox. Obviously, the Russian Orthodox Church had sent no request to Patriarch Gregory VII. It had clearly been sent by ‘renovated’ schismatics.
And Patriarch Tikhon wrote a very clear letter, based on the canons, protesting against the fact that a “commission” was sent by another local church in a non-canonical way on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church that he led. We know under what most difficult conditions Patriarch Tikhon was then. But despite the fact that the patriarch was practically deprived of freedom, he courageously and accurately defined his position. Since what is happening now in the Ukraine is a reflection of what took place in the early twentieth century, as I have already said, we must follow the line courageously defined by His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon in the most difficult years for our Church. It is the only just and canonically founded line of action”, Patriarch Kirill concluded.
Source in Russian