New York, October 10, Interfax - The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad accused the Constantinople Patriarchate of invading foreign territory and called for countering the evil that threatens the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
"We, the members of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, which carries out its ministry in the lands of North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other nations of the West, ministering to numerous emigres from the lands of historic Rus' and their descendants, express our profound indignation at the blatant violation of the holy canons by the Orthodox Church of Constantinople," the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad said in a statement seen by Interfax-Religion on Wednesday.
Constantinople's decision "send its 'exarchs' into the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, without the agreement and permission of His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow & All Russia, and His Beatitude Onufry, Metropolitan of Kiev & All Ukraine, is a gross and unprecedented incursion by one local Church into another canonical territory, which has its own local Church that alone is responsible for the Orthodox flock of that country," the statement reads.
Believing that this step taken by Patriarch Bartholomew and his fellows threatens the unity of Orthodox faith, the Synod calls on the Orthodox world "to redouble their holy and ardent prayers for peace in Ukraine, and unfailingly to oppose the evil presently befalling our persecuted brothers and sisters, the children of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church."
The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad wished "strength" to Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and "the episcopacy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to which all those who have (separated themselves) should repentantly and in appropriate manner approach for canonical reception into the Orthodox Church."
Earlier, in late September, the Russian Orthodox Church suspended its co-service with the Constantinople Orthodox Church on the level of bishops and the participation of the Russian Church Abroad in the work of assemblies of bishops co-chaired by representatives of Constantinople.
The Ukrainian authorities are seeking the creation of an autocephalous church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Patriarch Bartholomew agreed to help them to this end, sending two exarchs to Ukraine in September. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine, rejected that initiative and demanded that the exarchs leave the country.
The Russian Church Abroad is a self-governed part of the Moscow Patriarchate that separated in the 1920s due to the Russian Revolution and reunited with it in 2007.