The following is the English translation of the statement we made at the Conference on ‘The Orthodox Teaching on the Church and Contemporary Challenges’, which was held in Moscow on 26 October and organized by the Analytical Centre of St Basil the Great.
The Russian Orthodox Church suspended Eucharistic communion with Constantinople because of its politically-backed and therefore uncanonical support of schism in the Ukraine. The Russian Church has the canonical authority to do so, for by supporting schism Constantinople entered into dialogue with the anathematized, and so fell under anathema itself. But is this event a disaster or an opportunity?
We believe that this is an opportune time for the Russian Orthodox Church to re-emerge as the Church of the Third Rome. As before 1917, it can now assume leadership of Orthodox Christendom by agreement with the other twelve Local Churches. All of these are very small, but some are very ancient. This is unlike Constantinople, which only had a political claim to leadership, as the former capital of the Empire.
The ancient Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch go back to the apostles and their voices in particular must be heeded. As Patriarch John of Antioch has said, we need a Council where all Orthodox can meet. We would say, as we have been saying for the past eleven years, that such a Council can take place outside Moscow, on the Istra: this will be the long-awaited New Jerusalem Council.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips