You have already mentioned the Maidan which resulted in a profound split in Ukrainian society. But there then followed a church schism. The Phanar (the Church of Constantinople) of course took advantage of the time and situation… And now we see how deep the schism is within the Church. In general, Your Holiness, do you think it is possible for Orthodox unity be attained and how can this be achieved?
The Phanar did not simply make a mistake, but committed a crime. I say this with a sense of great sadness. The Patriarch of Constantinople did what he did not off the top of his own head and not upon his own say so. I would like to definitely emphasize that he was acting not off the top of his own head or upon his own say so because I have information at my disposal that Patriarch Bartholomew was under pressure from powerful political forces emanating from one of the world superpowers. As we know, his position in Turkey is very complex and difficult. We always pray for the Patriarch of Constantinople being fully aware of how hard it is for him to fulfill his patriarchal ministry. And yet, nonetheless, at a certain moment – I have no desire to teach my brother – but at a certain moment, perhaps, he should have summoned up to strength to say ‘no’ to these political forces. I believe that Patriarch Bartholomew did not say this and was drawn into the conflict. And what was the logic of those who were behind Patriarch Bartholomew, of those who properly speaking stirred up this conflict? The logic was to tear Russia, Orthodox Russia away from her Orthodox brothers and sisters in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Because, as these strategic analysts believe, Orthodoxy has played and continues to play far too big a role in the formation of a spiritual and cultural commonality, and, if these ties between Orthodox Christians are not broken off, it would be impossible to destroy this spiritual commonality by using external factors. So, the intention is quite simple: tear the Russia Church away from the Orthodox Christians of Greece, the Arab world and the Middle East so that Orthodoxy itself would be become weaker.
So, you believe that there will be such attempts in the future?
There will be such attempts in the future. Again, I have no desire to utter criticism towards my brother in Constantinople, but there can be no doubt that what happened afterwards in Constantinople, in Istanbul, is testimony to divine retribution. Patriarch Bartholomew has brought schismatics into the holy Church of Sophia in Kiev and lost the Church of Sophia in Constantinople as it has now become a mosque. I would like people to reflect upon what has happened. You have taken away the Church of St. Sophia in Kiev from Orthodox people, from the Orthodox Church, you have gone there and brought with you schismatics, and then you lost your own Church of St. Sophia… I believe that it is hard to imagine any clearer consequences resulting from God’s command, and these consequences came about rapidly because the sin was too great. Yet we must come out of this together. We have to pray for each other, at least in our personal prayers, if this is now almost impossible in public worship since we no longer commemorate the Patriarch of Constantinople in the diptychs. Yet pray for each other we must and do all that which is within our power for this crisis in world Orthodoxy, imposed upon us from without, to be over as quickly as possible. The Russian Church is ready prepared to tread her part of this path in order to achieve this goal.