The new Macedonian Orthodox Church, granted autocephaly by the Serbian Mother-Church, was allowed to keep its Diaspora by the Serbian Church. However on this Sunday of Pentecost it was denied this right by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Here there could be a problem, though it is true that Constantinople does not admit the right of any Local Church to have a Diaspora.
The new Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metr Onufry, with perhaps 15 million faithful after the defection of so many dioceses to the Russian Orthodox Church, has also set up a Diaspora, notably opening a church in Denmark, but apparently also in nine other countries in Western Europe, among them in Portugal and Germany. It seems that there will be more to come.
Here there is definitely a problem, for the Mother-Church in Moscow has not even granted autocephaly to Metr Onufry’s Church, let alone allowed it a Diaspora. The Russian Orthodox Diaspora is already split into three jurisdictions, in order of size: churches of the Moscow Patriarchate, churches of ROCOR and churches of the Archdiocese of Western Europe. And this does not include Ukrainian churches under various groups. And now it seems there is yet another jurisdiction.
Whatever sympathy we may have with any exiled group, we feel a certain regret at the fragmentation of the Orthodox Church in the Diaspora. It means that there are now nine canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in the Diasporas in Western Europe, the Americas and Australia: Greek, Romanian, Russian (in several parts), Serbian, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Macedonian and Ukrainian.
The problem of such a nationalisation of the Diaspora is that it is in fact a secularisation and politicisation of the Diaspora. It goes against multinationalisation. This we believe to be an error, for the emphasis on ultimately political identities automatically means division, rather than a coming together under the local umbrella of any particular nation, region or language within the Diaspora.
We already have a situation In the USA where the head of one large jurisdiction commands his flock to vote Democrat and another jurisdiction is not just overtly Republican, but Trumpist, and imposes these purely political views on its members internationally and punishes them if they do not agree! (Just as the old Soviet Moscow Patriarchate tried to impose loyalty to the atheist Soviet Union internationally on Russian Orthodox outside Russia – and we know how that ended up). Then we have a jurisdiction in Germany which supports its government’s sending of arms to the Ukraine.
We have always struggled to unite all and our enemy has always been narrowness, whether racial or political, because that is always secular and always divisive. We are concerned.