It’s no secret that Moscow doesn’t take kindly to Pat. Bartholomew’s claims of universal authority (see: A Letter To The Ecumenical Patriarch Concerning The Situation Of The Diaspora by Patriarch Alexios written in 2005) so the sentence below “within the canonical order that was installed over centuries of church tradition” (quotes in Russian original) undoubtedly references this difference in ecclesiological understanding. This should be interesting.
On 20 May, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is scheduled to arrive in Russia for an official visit. At a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the MP, said that Patriarch Bartholomew, in particular, intends to visit Moscow, St Petersburg, Vladimir, and Suzdal. In July 2009, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias went to Turkey, his first official visit to another Local Orthodox Church as the First Hierarch of the MP. Then, at a meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Istanbul, Bartholomew expressed a willingness to work together with him “within the canonical order that was installed over centuries of church tradition. We extend to you the right hand of sincere and unfeigned love”, Patriarch Bartholomew said, noting that Patriarch Kirill always showed himself “an outstanding scholar and an honest labourer for the Gospel” and the Russian people were “pious and blessed by the Lord”. Patriarch Bartholomew also noted that “clouds” from time to time arose in the relations between the two “fraternal Churches”, but that they were only “temporary” and “quickly dissipated”. He emphasised, “No one can deprive us of the unity that we have in the common chalice”.