Are the Russian Orthodox churches in communion with each other? This article discusses the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Alexandria Patriarchate, as well as their relationship with other Eastern Orthodox churches. To understand this question, it is helpful to consider the background of these Eastern Orthodox churches.
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russian orthodox church in communion with constantinople
The Russian Orthodox Church is a world-wide church that traces its roots to the Apostle Andrew. According to tradition, he travelled from the Greek colonies of the Black Sea to the future city of Kiev, where he erected a cross. Today, the cathedral of Saint Andrew in Kiev marks this spot.
The breakup of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate occurred on October 15th, 2018. The schism was caused by a dispute over the canonical jurisdiction over Ukraine. The dispute spawned numerous Orthodox churches to take sides.
The Russian Orthodox Church is a hierarchical organization. The Patriarch of Moscow is the head of the Moscow Patriarchate. He has extensive powers but is not considered infallible. He is not the head of the church, and is not the sole authority on matters of faith. Instead, he delegated some of his powers to a council of bishops. The Ecumenical Throne is responsible for deciding the most important questions of faith and order.
The Russian Orthodox Church has its own unique liturgical tradition. It is a treasure of sacred art and music, making the presence of heaven on earth come alive. The Orthodox Church also uses icons to enhance the liturgical life. It uses icons to inspire our spiritual senses and communicate the beauty and grandeur of the mysteries.
Russian orthodox church ties with Alexandria Patriarchate
The ROC split with the Alexandria Patriarchate and formed an Exarchate in Africa. This move was driven by the demand for clergy and parishes in those regions. Archbishop Leonid (Gorbachev) of Yerevan and Armenia was named head of the exarchate and given the title Metropolitan of Klin. He will retain the top position in the Yerevan-Armenian Diocese in the meantime.
The Moscow Patriarchate announced the formation of an African exarchate, based in Cairo, with dioceses in the northern and southern regions of Africa. Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, the Patriarchate’s representative in Africa, would head the new exarchate. In the wake of the move, more than a hundred African Orthodox priests resigned from their current positions and switched to the new Russian exarchate.
The move by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has begun challenging the established Orthodox Christianity order by extending his Orthodox Church to Africa. He is also hinting at an eventual move against Turkey. According to the Orthodox Church, there are 16 autocephalous Orthodox churches, each reigning supreme in its own “canonical territory.” By extending its jurisdiction to Africa, the Russian Orthodox Church could weaken the Alexandria Patriarchate and expand its sway.
In the early centuries of Christianity, the Alexandrian patriarchate was in charge of Egypt, Libya, and the Pentapolis. The Nicene council, which was the first to adopt the universal Christian creed, confirmed that the Alexandrian church possessed territorial sovereignty over these areas.
Russian orthodox church ties with other Eastern Orthodox churches
Russian Orthodox Church leaders have been criticized for their stance on war and have been accused of encouraging hostility. During the stalemate in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed neutrality but has also publicly supported separatists. Patriarch Kirill, a prominent figure in the Russian Orthodox Church, reportedly did not attend the signing ceremony of the Crimea treaty and has spoken out in support of separatists in the Donbas.
Following the death of Patriarch Tikhon in 1925, the Soviet government prohibited patriarchal elections. Metropolitan Sergius, then acting as patriarch, accepted the Soviet government’s authority over the church and condemned political dissent within the Church. His decision led to a split with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia abroad and the Russian True Orthodox Church (Russian Catacomb Church) within the Soviet Union.
The Russian Orthodox Church has ties with other Eastern Orthodox churches through the establishment of Brotherhoods. The brotherhoods are lay organizations led by priests that perform social work and organize educational and cultural programs. In 1990, the Russian Orthodox Church and its brotherhoods formed the Alliance of Orthodox Brotherhoods to organize joint projects that benefit the public. The Alliance has worked to improve educational and social services and has also helped build hospitals and agricultural communities.
The Russian government also has strong ties with the Church. Many government officials are eager to show respect for the Church and the Patriarch. The Russian President meets with the Patriarch publicly on church holidays.