2019-11-02 18:49:00

Metropolitan Hilarion says his meeting with Pompeo foiled by Russian Orthodox Church opponents

Moscow, November 2, Interfax - Head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion has said those opposed to the Russian Church were the reason that his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which was scheduled for October 22, did not take place.

"I think we have many ill-wishers, who have good contacts with the Department of State, and when this meeting was announced they took measures to prevent it from taking place," the metropolitan said on the program Church and World on Rossiya-24.

He said he had received an invitation to meet with the U.S. secretary of state from members of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America back in June. "I was not the initiator, and I had not expected anything special from that meeting, but I accepted. I was offered dates in August, they didn't suit me, I was offered dates in September, and my schedule for September was full. Then the office of the U.S. secretary of state offered three dates in October. I chose one of the three proposed dates because it was close to the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the ministry of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn and the 100th anniversary of the Antiochian cathedral, to which the Antiochians, those who organized the meeting, invited me," the metropolitan said.

"Until this meeting was announced no one tried to disrupt it," Metropolitan Hilarion said. However, before the conversation, the Department of State published Pompeo's schedule for the following day. And the next morning I received a phone call from the Department of State saying the meeting would take place, but it would be held one on one, and a representative of the Antiochian Church was previously expected to attend it. One hour before that meeting I received a phone call saying that Pompeo's deputy could meet with me. Well, I refused to meet," the metropolitan said.

The following morning, Pompeo had a meeting with Yepifaniy, leader of the Ukrainian schismatics in a ceremonial atmosphere, Metropolitan Hilarion said. He said, citing media reports, that Yepifaniy had spoken about violations of the rights of believers in Donbas and Crimea and Pompeo had said the United States had supported and would continue supporting the Ukrainian Church independent of the Russian Orthodox Church.

"Thus, Secretary of State Pompeo reaffirmed the position of the U.S., which does not consist in non-interference in church affairs, but consists in direct interference in these affairs, namely, in that the U.S. does not hide its support of the Ukrainian autocephaly project," the metropolitan said.

Metropolitan Hilarion said he was not surprised by the fact that his meeting with the U.S. secretary of state did not take place in the context of that support.