The Russian Patriarchate has openly disputed the first-among-equals status of the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate after the latter’s decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from Moscow.
The chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, Hilarion, said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate “presents itself as a sui generis head” of the world’s 300 million Orthodox.
“However, at least half of the Orthodox population will no longer acknowledge [Patriarch Vartholomaios] as the first among the family of Orthodox churches,” Hilarion said, adding that the move to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian church was a step “on the path of war.”
Last Friday, the Ecumenical Patriarchate named two representatives who will be dispatched to Kiev to discuss the process of its autocephaly.
The issue has been a source of friction between Vartholomaios and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill since April.
The two men met earlier in September in a bid to bridge the gap but to no avail.