Patriarch Kirill, 75, head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Church, following meetings in recent days, agreed to receive into their Church “102 clerics of the Patriarchate of Alexandria [in Egypt] from eight African countries.” The clerics decided to leave the Patriarchate of Alexandria in protest over the Patriarch of Alexandria’s decision to support the creation of an autonomous Orthodox Church in Ukraine, something which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople approved, but which the Russian Orthodox still maintain was not done “canonically,” and therefore they maintain the creation of the new Church in Ukraine is not valid. What this means is that the tensions in the Orthodox world are not diminishing, but still intensifying. For those following Catholic-Orthodox relations, these are important developments

    Letter #195, 2021, Thursday, December 30: Anderson

    Peter Anderson, a retired lawyer in Seattle, Washington who follows events of the Orthodox world and contributes a column to Inside the Vatican, has just produced an interesting report on the acceptance by the Russian Orthodox Church of more than 100 African priests who will serve in parishes in Africa, now connected with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The text of his December 29 report is below.

    Then, below that, is a second report from Peter, dates December 22, which discusses the possibility of a meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill during 2022. We will try to keep you posted on developments in this regard in the days and weeks ahead. —RM

    “The Other Wise Man”

    We have now posted the 3rd in a 10-part series of a reading of the classic Christmas story “The Other Wise Man.” It is available here on YouTube (or by clicking the video below) or on Rumble.

    The story was written by Henry Van Dyke in 1895 (link). We offer this to you as a kind of Christmas present during the 12 days of Christmas. We hope that it might be a type of pilot for the creation of a kind of “book club” in which we would prepare readings of great stories and documents to try to help families, especially during this time of lockdown, to have time for reading together with children and grandchildren, during the holidays, and throughout the year. If you have a comment or suggestion, please feel free to respond to this email, or send an email to [email protected]

    Here is the text of Peter Anderson‘s most recent report, posted yesterday, December 29:

    Moscow Patriarchate has established two dioceses and an exarchate in Africa

    By Peter Anderson

    December 29, 2021

    Today, December 29, the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate adopted a resolution creating two dioceses and an exarchate in Africa. (link)

    The Moscow Patriarchate also accepted under its jurisdiction “102 clerics of the Patriarchate of Alexandria from eight African countries.”

    The preamble to the resolution stated: “Today, no less than a hundred parishes of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, headed by their rectors, have declared their desire to join the bosom of the Russian Orthodox Church.” A Google translation of the full text of Journal No. 100, including the preamble and actual resolution, is pasted below.


    Today’s resolution does not come as a total surprise. As you may recall, the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate at its meeting on September 23-24, 2021, instructed Archbishop Leonid of Vladikavkaz and Alania [now with the title “of Yerevan and Armenia”] to study thoroughly “the numerous appeals of the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus with a request to accepting them under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate” and to submit proposals to the Holy Synod with respect to these appeals. (link) (Journal entry 61).

    Also, the Holy Synod had decided on December 26, 2019, to remove “from the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church located on the African continent” and to place them under the personal jurisdiction of Patriarch Kirill. A representative of the Moscow Patriarchate’s DECR stated there are a total of six such Russian Orthodox parishes in Africa. (link) They are located in Morocco (Rabat and Casablanca), Tunisia (Bizerte and Tunis), Egypt (Cairo), and South Africa (Johannesburg). Under today’s resolution, these six stavropegic parishes are incorporated into the new dioceses.

    The Holy Synod did not engage in any half-way measures. There was some speculation that the Moscow Patriarchate might limit its new organizations to those parts of Africa where there is not a long history of the presence of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. The two new dioceses established today encompass every African nation without exception. The new Diocese of North Africa includes 31 nations and is to be headed by a bishop with the title, “Bishop of Cairo and North Africa.” It therefore covers territory which was part of the Patriarchate of Alexandria since its inception.

    The theory of the Moscow Patriarchate appears to be that the Patriarchate of Alexandria has fallen into schism because of its recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), and therefore all of Africa is now territory open to canonical Orthodox churches. In recruiting African parishes, it is possible that the Moscow Patriarchate indicated that it would give more authority to native African clergy.

    On October 8, 2021, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch issued a statement which included the following: “The Synod Fathers considered the challenges facing Orthodoxy in the contemporary world, and stressed the importance of preserving the unity of Orthodoxy, respecting the canonical tradition of the Church, and avoiding anything that would exacerbate existing disputes, potentially transforming these disputes into larger and more consequential divisions in the one body of Christ.” (link) Today’s action by the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate certainly is a major escalation of the dispute arising from Ukraine and does in fact greatly exacerbate the existing dispute. Why is the Moscow Patriarchate doing this? I do not have any inside information, but the following speculation may be a rationale for today’s action.

    First, the Moscow Patriarchate wishes to demonstrate how far it will go if other Local Orthodox Churches recognize the OCU. Thus, today’s action constitutes a stern warning to other Local Orthodox Churches not to recognize the OCU. Second, it may be the hope of the Moscow Patriarchate that its action will alarm the primates of other Orthodox Churches and cause them to conclude that a meeting of the Orthodox primates is now absolutely necessary to resolve the worsening situation in the Orthodox world. The Moscow Patriarchate has been hoping for a second Amman-type meeting, and it has not happened. Moscow hopes that such a meeting will address the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine and specifically the powers claimed by the Ecumenical Patriarch in granting autocephaly to the OCU. If an Amman-type meeting is held, the Moscow Patriarchate could agree to rescind its actions in Africa if the Ecumenical Patriarchate rescinds its actions in Ukraine. In short, the actions in Africa could be a “bargaining chip.” Again, this is just speculation on my part.

    In other news, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew tested positive for Covid on December 24. (link) It is now reported that Bartholomew has been experiencing mild symptoms and is doing well. (link)

    —Peter Anderson, Seattle, USA



    Report of the Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, Archbishop Leonid of Yerevan and Armenia, on the numerous appeals of the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria to the address of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia with a request to receive them under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate.


    Due to the departure of Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria into schism, his commemoration at the Divine Liturgy on November 8, 2019 of the head of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” among the Primates of the autocephalous Churches, recognition of the said schismatic grouping and concelebration with its head on August 13, 2021, part of the clergy of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, declaring their disagreement with the position of their Primate, addressed the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill with a request to be accepted into the bosom of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Archbishop Leonid of Yerevan and Armenia, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and in pursuance of the decision of the Holy Synod of September 24, 2021 (magazine No. 61), studied numerous requests of the clergy of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, held a personal meeting with community leaders — priests from a number of African countries who wish to pass under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarch. Today, no less than a hundred parishes of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, headed by their rectors, have declared their desire to join the bosom of the Russian Orthodox Church. Many of them made a request to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia back in 2019, after the recognition of the schismatic group by the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Patriarch Theodoros.


    1. To state the impossibility of further refusal to the clergy of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church who submitted the appropriate petitions to accept them under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate.

    2. To accept into the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church 102 clerics of the Patriarchate of Alexandria from eight African countries, in accordance with the petitions submitted.

    3. To form the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa within the North African and South African dioceses.

    4. The head of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa has the title “Klinsky”.

    5. Include the following countries in the sphere of pastoral responsibility of the North African Diocese: Arab Republic of Egypt, Republic of Sudan, Republic of South Sudan, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, State of Eritrea, Republic of Djibouti, Federal Republic of Somalia, Republic of Seychelles, Central African Republic, Republic of Cameroon, Republic of Chad, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Niger, State of Libya, Tunisian Republic, Algerian People’s Democratic Republic, Kingdom of Morocco, Republic of Cape Verde, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Republic of Senegal, Republic of Gambia, Republic of Mali, Burkina Faso, Republic of Guinea-Bissau , Republic of Guinea, Republic of Sierra Leone, Republic of Liberia, Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Ghana, Togolese Republic, Republic of Benin.

    6. To include in the North African Diocese the stavropegic parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Tunisian Republic and the Kingdom of Morocco.

    7. The Diocesan Bishop of the North African Diocese shall have the title “Cairo and North Africa”.

    8. Include the following countries in the pastoral responsibility of the Diocese of South Africa: Republic of South Africa, Kingdom of Lesotho, Kingdom of Eswatini, Republic of Namibia, Republic of Botswana, Republic of Zimbabwe, Republic of Mozambique, Republic of Angola, Republic of Zambia, Republic of Malawi, Republic of Madagascar, Republic of Mauritius, Union of the Comoros, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Uganda, Republic of Rwanda, Republic of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Gabonese Republic, Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

    9. To include in the South African diocese the stavropegic parish of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Republic of South Africa.

    10. The Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of South Africa has the title of “Johannesburg and South Africa”.

    11. For Metropolitan of Klin, Patriarchal Exarch of Africa, to appoint Archbishop Leonid of Yerevan and Armenia with the assignment of the administration of the North African Diocese and the provisional administration of the South African Diocese.

    12. To release His Grace Leonid from the post of deputy chairman of the DECR, retaining for him the temporary administration of the Yerevan-Armenian Diocese.

    And here is Peter Anderson‘s December 22 report on the preparations for a meeting during 2022 between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill:

    Preparing the Pope-Patriarch Meeting in 2022

    By Peter Anderson,    

    December 22, 2021

    Pope Francis told journalists on his return flight from Athens that Metropolitan Hilarion would be coming to the Vatican soon to arrange a second meeting between the Pope and Patriarch Kirill. On December 22, a 60-minute meeting between the Pope Francis and Metropolitan Hilarion did in fact occur. (link and link).

    After the meeting, Metropolitan Hilarion gave an interview with TASS. He stated that a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch is planned for 2022. According to the Metropolitan, “we have discussed specific dates and specific places, but we cannot announce them yet, because they require additional elaboration on both sides.” The future meeting will primarily relate to “how Christians can survive in the modern world, where they face persecution, violence, risk for life.” (link)

    In the interview, Metropolitan Hilarion expressed doubts about a possible papal trip to Ukraine. With respect to such a trip, the Metropolitan stated that he did not know how much would be possible in view of the political difficulties, the church schism, and the persecution of the UOC-MP. However, he did not specifically state that the Moscow Patriarchate would oppose such a trip. Rather, he stated, “It is up to him, not us.” (link)

    Metropolitan Hilarion had harsh words to say about the work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Catholic Churches. According to him, the dialogue has “turned into a deception” because of Constantinople’s “artificially inflating the primacy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.” The Metropolitan also referred to the Union resulting from Florence. He stated: “Whether this experience will be repeated now, we do not know, but the actions of Constantinople in recent years have been unpredictable.” (link)

    It appears that at this point in time, both the Russian government and the Moscow Patriarchate very much value good relations with Pope Francis. This can be seen in the congratulatory messages to the Pope on the latter’s 85th birthday, December 17.

    President Putin had a telephone conversation with the Pope on his birthday (link) and also sent him a message (link) which stated in part as follows:

    You dedicated your whole life to promoting high spiritual and moral values. You have made an invaluable contribution to developing relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church and to strengthening ties between Russia and the Vatican.

    I have many pleasant recollections of our meetings and our constructive and meaningful talks, which reaffirmed the similarity between the attitudes of Russia and the Holy See to the key international issues. I am confident that by working together we will be able to do a great deal to protect Christians’ rights and interests and to maintain interfaith dialogue.

     The message from Patriarch Kirill (link) reads in part as follows:

    As Primates of the two largest Christian Churches in the world, we have a special responsibility for the future of humankind. This responsibility has a global dimension, as evidenced by our meeting in Havana and the Joint Declaration we signed. I am glad to note that while remaining faithful to their own traditions, our Churches have achieved a high level of cooperation. It enables us to work together to glorify the name of God throughout the world, strengthen the imperishable moral ideals in society, promote interfaith dialogue, and give proper responses to the present-day challenges. 

    There continues to be developments relating to the three churches of the Moscow Patriarchate operating in Western Europe — the ROCOR, the Archdiocese, and the Exarchate. The Holy Synod of the ROCOR at its meeting on December 8-9 heard a report by Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe concerning “the uncanonical actions of Metropolitan Jean of Dubna [head of the Archdiocese], who has illegitimately claimed to have received a number of clergymen of the Russian Church Abroad without their canonical release.” (link)

    On December 13, Metropolitan Jean of Dubna met with Metropolitan Anthony [head of the Exarchate]. Metropolitan Jean awarded Metropolitan Anthony the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, the highest decoration of the Archdiocese. Included in the discussions of the two metropolitans was “the situation in Great Britain and Germany following the declarations of the two diocesan bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad [ROCOR] to break Eucharistic communion with the clerics of the Archdiocese.” (link)

    Also relating to Western Europe, Archbishop Simon of Brussels and Belgium [part of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Exarchate of Western Europe] celebrated his 70th birthday on December 7. Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium [Ecumenical Patriarchate] attended the Divine Liturgy, was warmly greeted by Archbishop Simon, and spoke at the celebration. (link and link).

    After the celebration, the Archbishop invited the Metropolitan to his residence “where there was a discussion in an atmosphere of brotherhood and sincerity.” (see link)

    In Ukraine on December 17, President Zelensky met with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations. (link) Both Metropolitan Onufry (head of the UOC-MP) and Metropolitan Epifany (head of the OCU) were present. At the meeting, Zelensky signed the new law “On the Service of the Military Chaplaincy,” which will be effective July 1, 2022. The new law is not discriminatory and allows both priests of the UOC-MP and OCU to serve as military chaplains. (link)

    On December 15, a large delegation of monks and religious sisters, led by the Bishop Partenij of the schismatic Orthodox church in North Macedonia, was received at the Phanar by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. (link)

    The Phanar treated the meeting as simply one of many groups and individuals that the Ecumenical Patriarch met on that day. (link)

    The delegation had previously been in Athens where its choir participated in an international Orthodox music festival. (link) It is reported that the choir sang and communed at a liturgy in Athens.

    In January 2020 the Ecumenical Patriarchate had invited delegations from the Serbian Orthodox Church and the schismatic church to come to the Phanar for consultations and an attempt to find a mutually agreeable solution to the split in North Macedonia. To the best of my knowledge, the Serbian Orthodox Church has never responded.

    In Serbia, Patriarch Porfirije has continued his outreach to Catholics. On December 20, he visited the Catholic cathedral in Belgrade and delivered a long and warm address. He announced that the Serbian Orthodox Church will be making a donation to assist in the renovation of the Catholic cathedral. (link)

    As is traditional, a delegation from the Vatican, led by Cardinal Kurt Koch, celebrated the feast of St. Andrew with the Ecumenical Patriarch at the Phanar on November 30. (linkEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his address to Cardinal Koch referred to the work of the international dialogue and stated:

    “The pandemic of the coronavirus has variously impacted our ecclesiastical life and inter-Christian dialogues. It is now almost two consecutive years that the objectives of the Mixed International Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches have been unable to be realized through person-to-person encounters. We hope that this will occur next May 2022 [namely a meeting of the Commission’s Coordinating Committee] and that the convening of the Commission’s plenary will also return to its course.”

     In contrast to Metropolitan Hilarion, the Ecumenical Patriarch is a strong supporter of the present work of the Commission.

    The Catholic Church has been a strong supporter of the Commission since its inception. On December 14, 1975, it was announced at a special Mass in the Sistine Chapel that a commission was being established to prepare for a theological dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. During the Mass, Pope Paul VI, in a dramatic and unplanned gesture, knelt and kissed the feet of the astounded Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon, the Orthodox bishop who had come to Rome to make the joint announcement with the Pope. The following recent link has a photo of this amazing event. (link)

    For those of you celebrating Christmas on December 25, I wish you a very blessed and joyful Nativity of Our Lord.    

    —Peter Anderson, December 23, 2021

    A Video Interview Wrapping Up 2021

    Here is a link to an hour-long interview I did last week with Jim Hale of Lifesitenews, in which Jim asks me to discuss some of the events of 2021 in a kind of year-end wrap-up. Some of you may find the interview of interest. Lifesitenews writes:

    “Unite the clans”: Viganò biographer says “evils” of Great Reset must be met with penance, prayer

    Author of Finding ViganòRobert Moynihan, sits down with LSN TV’s Jim Hale to discuss the latest efforts taking place to combat the Great Reset. Moynihan also shares his vision for the future of the fight and his next book on Archbishop Viganò, explaining that resistance to the “cage” being constructed for mankind must be met with prayer and penance.

    [End special note]


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