The Patriarchate of Constantinople does not have the right or authority to lift anathemas from the heads of Ukrainian churches, because that contradicts the canons of Orthodox Christianity. This opinion was expressed by His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, to a correspondent of TASS News Agency.
"This is the privilege of the church that originally laid it [the anathema]," underscored Metropolitan Hilarion, "and not the Patriarch of Constantinople – this is utterly wrong."
"The fact of the matter is that all of the bishops of the Orthodox Church are equal amongst themselves," he pointed out, "because there are only honorary members: for instance, His Holiness the Patriarch of Constantinople, because at one time it [Constantinople] was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. But he is equal to all hierarchs, and cannot act in the way of the Roman Catholic Church, where the Pope alone decides such matters… The Patriarch of Constantinople cannot assume the privileges of the Pope, because we are all equal," noted the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. "All things must be decided – and all things must be acted upon – in accordance with the canons."
According to him, the contradictory situation around the Church in Ukraine, which has led to schism within the Church, became possible because Constantinople has fallen under the influence of politics. "The Patriarch of Constantinople became too dependent upon outsiders, political players, upon other governments who seek that the division between Ukraine and Russia be deepened, who wish in every way to weaken the power of the Russian state, the influence of the nation," Metropolitan Hilarion believes.
Press Service of the Department of External Church Relations
Translation by www.synod.com