RUSSIA The new ‘Foreign Minister’ of the Moscow Patriarchate takes office

Metropolitan Antonij replaces Hilarion, who was dismissed by Patriarch Kirill and sent to the see in Budapest. Patriarchy’s Priorities: “Geopolitical Challenges and the Orthodox World Order”. The shadow of war in Ukraine. The battle against those who want to impose an “ecclesiology foreign to Orthodoxy”.

Moscow () – The first plenary session convened by the new head of the Department of Foreign Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (OVCS), the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Antonij (Sevrjuk), took place. It should be remembered that, until recently, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) was at the head of the church body, who was dismissed and sent to the Budapest headquarters.

The new assistant to the patriarch indicated the priorities of the Russian Church in terms of “foreign policy”: first of all, “geopolitical challenges and the order of world orthodoxy.” Antonij recalled that he started collaborating with OVCS very young, in 2007, when he was only 21 years old. He was an intern in the communications service, and soon after became the personal secretary of then director Kirill (Gundyaev). Two years later, Kirill was elected as patriarch and took him with him to the patriarchal residence, “determining the whole course” of his life. Antonij then practiced in Rome and Paris, always staying in close contact with the OVCS members, who are “like family.”

His personal memories are intertwined with the fundamental guidelines of “inter-Orthodox and interfaith relations”, but also with the authorities and political and social organizations of Russia and other countries, especially “in aid of our compatriots around the world”, recalls Antonij. Currently, these relations are under tension due to “not easy circumstances”. As a consequence, he said, “the universal unity of the Church faces serious threats, because attempts are being made to impose a new order on the very existence of the Church, destroying the previous one, which marked her life for many centuries.” “They want to impose on us an ecclesiology alien to Orthodoxy.”

Despite the difficulties, the Metropolitan invited all OVCS collaborators to look to the future with optimism: “We know that the Lord has founded the Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The Church, throughout the millennia, has accumulated colossal experience and has always repelled threats, both internal and external. The Department is “in the front line in this fight” to defend the interests of the Russian Church, its structure and the canonical order”, thanks also to the sacrifice and “high professionalism” of its collaborators.

Antonij promises that during the first days of his mandate “he will absorb like a sponge” the great qualities of the staff he is called to lead: “I will need your advice” to try to fulfill the great tasks “that our primate has wanted to put on my shoulders” . OVCS Vice President, Mr. protoierej Nikolaj Balashov, expressed the support of the entire group of collaborators, to “continue to increase the glory and honor of this, the oldest of the synodal organisms, always directed by exceptional personalities, brilliant and illustrious men, each of whom has always left an important mark on the history of our Church”.

The meeting concluded with prayers to “holy defenders of the Orthodox faith”, from Mark of Ephesus (who rejected the Union of Florence in 1439) to Prince Daniil of Moscow, son of Aleksandr Nevsky, who gave birth to the history of the Muscovite “Third Rome”. They also invoked all the saints of the Russian Land who “support us with their prayers and intercessions for the defense of the rights and interests of our Church, its dignity and its possibilities to carry out an essential service for the salvation of the gender as our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted us”, Metropolitan Antonij concluded.

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Written by Editor TLN

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