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Orthodox Church In Western Europe Rejects Both Constantinople And Moscow – OpEd


The Archbishopric of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe by a vote of 119 to 15 rejected the call by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople to subordinate themselves to it, but despite the calls of some and much pressure from Russia, they postponed any decision to join the Moscow Patriarchate (

There is no question that this is a slap in the face of Constantinople which increasingly has positioned itself as a kind of Eastern papacy, but the fact that it has not led the European archbishopric immediately to subordinate itself to Moscow suggests that any move in that direction is likely to be a long time in coming and may in fact never happen.

What seems more likely is that the Orthodox Church in Western Europe will itself divide along national lines, something that may ultimately allow Moscow to gain some support in particular cases but that will work against the possibility of supra-national “canonical” territories of the kind Moscow talks about.

That will likely put paid to Moscow Patriarch Kirill’s efforts to position himself as an alternative to Constantinople as the center of Orthodoxy and encourage other Orthodox communities to move in the direction of forming national churches as Ukraine has done rather that feel they must choose between Moscow and Constantinople.

This decision in Paris is thus something that works for the Ukrainian church and for all the Orthodox churches in the former Soviet space as well as elsewhere and represents yet another defeat for Kirill, something he can ill afford after the debacle for Moscow in Ukraine, a debacle that has increased speculation in Moscow that Putin will replace him.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

One thought on “Orthodox Church In Western Europe Rejects Both Constantinople And Moscow – OpEd

  • February 26, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    Constantinople ,now Istanbul used to be the main city of Orthodoxy. Istanbul is Turkey and Muslim.
    Moscow is Christian . Moscow must be the center of Orthodoxy and most certainly of Slavic Orthodoxy which is far more then 60% of the world’s Orthodox Christians. Catholicism is by it’s own admission in serious trouble with sexual perversion. The Christian world needs a new city to look to. Orthodox Christian Moscow should come to the rescue of Christianity.


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