On March 16, the Russian Church, by decision of its synod, severed communion with the new head of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop George, and with those of its hierarchs who “enter church communion” with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. This is clear from a decision announced on the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate, which states that the Russian Church will not include in its diptych the new head of the Church of Cyprus, nor will there be Eucharistic and prayer communion with him and the other Cypriot hierarchs who ” have entered or will enter church communion” with the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which they do not recognize.
In practice, this means severing ecclesiastical relations with the Church of Cyprus, since the refusal to mention during the Eucharist the superior of a local church means breaking communion with it. The ROC does not recognize this, claiming that it broke Eucharistic communion only with specific people, including superiors, and not with the entire local church, which is impossible from a canonical point of view.
So far, the Moscow Patriarchate has severed relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, declaring the temples and monasteries under its episcopate to be “graceless”, and recognizing partial severance of communion with the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the Church of Greece only in relation to their superiors and “bishops who recognize Ukrainian autocephaly “.
In the last year, however, the Russian Orthodox Church opened its “exarchy” in Africa and organized a “mission” among the priests and parishes of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, urging them to break away from it, as it is “graceless”. In practice, this contradicts their official position that the severance of communion is “partial” only with regard to the head of the patriarchate.
The Patriarchate of Alexandria sent a canonical letter to all local Orthodox churches to inform them of the Moscow Patriarchate’s uncanonical actions and to get their support. Unfortunately, most church leaders, driven by “diplomatic” considerations, did not condemn this clearly anti-canonical action of the ROC for fear of spoiling their relations with Moscow. Bulgarian Holy Synod also referred the case with the Russian Exarchy in Africa for “clarification” by its canonical commission.
The logic of Russian ecclesiastical behavior in the last year suggests that the opening of a “Russian exarchate in Northern Cyprus” is possible in the near future, i.e. in the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, where there is a large Russian diaspora.