THE dispute in the Orthodox world over the status of the Church in Ukraine (News, 21 September; Comment, 31 August) resurfaced at the meeting of the International Commission for Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue, gathered in Cyprus last week.
The representative from the Moscow Patriarchate, the Very Revd Dr Valentin Vassechko, was “unable to attend” as a result of the row, which has caused the Russian Orthodox Church to sever links with the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew.
Earlier this month, the Patriarch formally recognised two independent bodies, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate), and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, in defiance of the official Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).
On Monday, the Moscow Times reported that a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarch, Kirill, said that the Church would restore dialogue if Constantinople (Istanbul, the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch) “recognises the fallaciousness of its actions and decisions and apologises for causing significant damage to the entire Orthodox world”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who was in Istanbul last Friday, assured “the whole of the Orthodox Church and the clergy and people of Ukraine” of his prayers for peace and unity.
At their meeting, the Archbishop and the Ecumenical Patriarch discussed slavery, human trafficking, and the environment.
The International Commission has been working on a document about the environment. A draft was debated at last week’s meeting, although the report, Stewards of Creation: A hope-filled ecology, remains a work in progress. Other topics debated were a theological understanding of the human person, and end-of-life issues.