The head of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, said that the Local Orthodox Churches do not agree to Constantinople’s claims to sole power. This was discussed at the conference “World Orthodoxy: Primacy and Sobornost in the Light of the Orthodox Doctrine,” the Patriarchate reports.
“We have faced in recent years with the claims of the Patriarch of Constantinople for special privileges, special powers in the Orthodox Church, which are akin to papal powers in the Roman Catholic Church. But if in the Western Catholic tradition there is a papal system of church government, when one person stands over the whole Church, perceived as the viceroy of Christ, then in our Orthodox tradition this has never happened. The Orthodox Church is a family of Local Churches, and the Primates of these Churches are equal to each other, even if there is a certain order between them in which they line up when they celebrate the Divine Liturgy together. ”
Vladyka recalled that according to the established order, up to the 11th century, the first was the bishop of Rome, the second followed by the bishop of Constantinople, and then the other Primates of the Local Churches. After a break in communication between Catholics and Orthodox occurred in 1054, primacy in the family of the Eastern Orthodox Churches naturally passed to the Patriarch of Constantinople. However, it was and remains the primacy of honor, not the primacy of power.
“When the Patriarch of Constantinople begins to exercise powers of authority, when he declares that he can interfere in the affairs of any Local Church, redraw the boundaries of Churches, as well as a sole decision to cancel acts and agreements of 300 years ago, with this, the Local Orthodox Churches, of course, will not agree,” said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.