October 19, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7719

Russian Orthodox Church Splits With Constantinople After Patriarchate Grants Ukrainian Church Independence Part II – Presidents Of Belarus And Moldova Back Russian Orthodox Church In Fray

October 19, 2018
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 7719

On October 11, a Synod meeting of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided to grant canonical status to the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and recognized them to be part of the Constantinople church.[1] This decision caused the outrage of the Russian Orthodox Church and of the Russian Government. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia stated that the attempts by politicians to tear the Ukrainian and Russian Churches apart are doomed. "Today when certain political forces are tormenting Ukraine, when they are trying to tear the Ukrainian Church off Russia's and destroy our unity, we know: all this will end in total flop."[2] In response to the Patriarchate of Constantinople's decision, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to sever Eucharistic ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Meanwhile, Russia's allies in the region, the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and the President of Moldova Igor Dodon showed their support to the Russian Orthodox Church. Lukashenko, who hosted the meeting of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Minsk, lamented that the Orthodox Church had become a hostage to inter-state relations. Dodon affirmed that Moldova will remain the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Below are the reactions to the Patriarchate of Constantinople's decision by Lukashenko and Dodon:

Belarusia's Reaction

Belarusian President Lukashenko: A Schism Is Always Bad

Patriarch Kirill with Belarus President Alexander Lukasheno (Source:

On October 15, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Minsk. Lukashenko also met with members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Synod of the Belarusian Orthodox Church. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church went to Minsk on October 15 to hold a meeting, which addressed the situation of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

During the welcome ceremony at the Independence Palace in Minsk, Lukashenko addressed the Patriarch Kirill, saying that a schism is always bad and bears dangerous consequences. By his warm welcome for Kirill, who complimented the Belarus leader in return, Lukashenko was signaling that the Constantinople Patriarchate were the schismatics.

Lukashenko said:

"Dear Vladyka, I welcome you in our and your dear Belarus. On the eve of our meetings, I always recall the period of your service of the Church before you were elevated to the patriarchal rank. We in Belarus have very warm remembrances of that period. As I have already told you, I remember your trips from Smolensk to Kaliningrad surely via our Belarus. Perhaps, since that time you have fallen in love with this land not strange to you.

"Now it is very relevant. I wish that you clearly understand my position, though I try not to make any statements, but there is no getting away from it. Unfortunately, very often in its history our Church would become a hostage to inter-state relations, to our sometimes-wrong actions. God sees everything and He will make out who is right and who is wrong. But you should be aware of our unshakable public position: a schism is always bad, and its consequences are more dangerous than anything else is.

"Therefore, what is taking place in Orthodoxy today is very painful for us. The world – Your Holiness, you can feel it no less and perhaps even more strongly than I cab because your feel by your heart – the world has changed, and not for the better. The whole population of our planet is becoming hostages… And I wish wisdom and patience to you and all the hierarchs of our Church. And we as parishioners will try to support the unity of all in order to preserve peace on earth, for we have come too close to the dangerous line.

"Your coming to Minsk, to Belarus, today is very vital. Perhaps, the Lord has predetermined it that at some serious moments we find ourselves, both politicians and clergy, in Minsk. I very much appreciate it, and it binds us in many ways. And we, Your Holiness, will cope with it."[3]

In response, Patriarch Kirill stated:

"By God’s mercy. Thank you, Your Excellency, dear Mr. President, Alexander Grigoryevich,

"Whenever I come to Byelorussia, I am in good mood. And you are right, a very large part of my life is linked with Byelorussia, though I did not live here but was in transit here almost every three weeks. I saw how Byelorussia lived and can compare what was in the 1990s with what it has become now. The changes are great. When you come to Byelorussia, especially to Minsk, you see vast spaces, beautiful clean street filled with air, and you understand: the authorities pay special attention to the quality of people’s life. Because life in big cities is linked with stresses, and if such a comfortable space is created in a big city, it means that people are thought about here…

"I would like to thank you for your attitude to the Byelorussian Orthodox Church and to the issues we have briefly discussed. Indeed, the quality of human life is what determines the success of the work of politicians. And this quality includes not only the level of wages but also all that surrounds people and ensures their wellbeing.

"I would like to stress once again the happy state of religious life in Byelorussia. And in the first place, I would like to thank you for the church-state relations in the dialogue between the Byelorussian government and the Byelorussian Orthodox Church."[4]

Moldova's Reaction

Moldovan President Dodon: Moldova Has Been And Will Remain The Canonical Territory Of The Moscow Patriarchate


On October 16, Moldovan President Igor Dodon showed his support for the Moscow Patriarchate. He also offered to host in Moldova a Pan-Orthodox Council that could presumably overrule or counteract the Constantinople Patriarchate's decision. Dodon said: "The authorities of the Orthodox countries, together with the heads of local churches, should make every effort to overcome the schism.

"I emphasize: Moldova is a country where about 98% of the population is Orthodox, has been and will remain in the Orthodox world. Moldova has been and will remain the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Moldovan metropolis was established in 1813 by the efforts of our great saint Gabriel Banulescu-Bodoni within the framework of the Russian Orthodox Church. And we will remain faithful to our united Church.

"I fully support the initiative to convene a Pan-Orthodox Council, voiced by Patriarch John X of Antioch[5] and supported by wide circles of clergy of the Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Polish, Alexandrian, Jerusalem Orthodox Churches, and the Orthodox Church in America, to resolve one of the most pressing issues in the history Orthodoxy.

"Considering the above, I am taking the initiative to hold the Pan-Orthodox Council in Moldova. We are a unique Orthodox country located in the very heart of the Orthodox world, and it is Moldova that can become a platform for meetings between all the heads of local churches in this extremely crucial period. I am sure that by joint efforts we can find ways to solve this difficult situation."[6]


[2], October 10, 2018.

[3], October 15, 2018.

[4], October 15, 2018.

[6], October 16, 2018.

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