The Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate has warned that it will break communion with the hierarchs of the Greek Church, including Archbishop Ieronymos, if it proceeds with the recognition of the Ukranian Church autocephaly.
Spokesman Vladimir Legoyda later clarified that the Russian Church will maintain relations with individual Greek Orthodox hierarchs who decline to recognize the Ukrainian Church’s autocephaly.
The Ukrainian Church was granted independence from Moscow by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in October last year, in a decision that was fiercely opposed by the Russian Church.
According to an official statement on Thursday, the Moscow Patriarchate threatened to erase the name of Ieronymos from its diptychs.
The statement also said that the Russian Synod disagrees with the recent position expressed by Ieronymos that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has always remained within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of “the Mother Church – the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
It added that Russian Patriarch Kirill has accused Ieronymos of toeing the line of Vartholomaios.
“The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Russia authorizes His Holiness, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, to desist in the prayerful commemoration for His Eminence, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos I, in case the Primate of the Church of Greece begins to commemorate, in the Divine Liturgies, the head of one of the Ukrainian schismatic factions or assumes other initiatives that will testify to the recognition, by him, of the Ukrainian ecclesiastical schism.
The Holy Synod announcement, taken after an extraordinary session in Moscow, dismissed an argument by the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, His Beatitude Ieronymos, who previously cited the absence of the Russian Orthodox Church from a Pan-Orthodox assembly of Churches, held in Crete in 2016.
The leadership of the Church of Greece decided on October 12 to recognize the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), making it the first of the Greek Orthodox churches to take such a step.
The formal recognition is scheduled to take place on October 19 in Thessaloniki in the presence of Archbishop Ieronymos and the OCU’s Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine.