Invited to Moscow by Russian Patriarch Kirill to attend the celebrations dedicated to the centenary of the restoration of the Russian Patriarchate, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel addressed the over 350 Russian hierarchs present at the concluding session of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, held on Saturday, 2 December 2017, pointing out the importance of maintaining Orthodox faith unity, of cultivating solidarity with those who suffer and of practical missionary cooperation.
Attendees for the festive session of the Bishops’ Council chaired by Patriarch Kirill at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow included:
- Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria and All Africa,
- Patriarch John of Antioch and All East,
- Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and All Palestine,
- Patriarch Irinej of Serbia,
- Patriarch Daniel of Romania,
- Archbishop Chrysostom of New Justiniana and All Cyprus,
- Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania,
- Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland,
- Metropolitan Rastislav of Czech Lands and Slovakia,
- Metropolitan Tikhon of America and Canada (OCA),
- Metropolitan Theodore of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti, representative of Georgian Patriarch Ilia,
- Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech, representative of Bulgarian Patriarch Neophyte,
- Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine,
- Metropolitan Daniel of Tokyo and All Japan.
In his message entitled Fraternal Communion and Missionary Co-responsibility, Patriarch Daniel offered his remarks regarding the establishment of the patriarchal institution during the first Christian millennium, which is related to ‘biblical patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the spiritual and political parents and leaders of the Jewish people, Moses’ predecessors.’
Being initially granted to the episcopal thrones in Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, the title of patriarchate was given to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1589 when Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II enthroned Metropolitan Saint Job as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. A new form of leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church ‘contrary to Orthodox canonical tradition’ was established by Czar Peter the Great in 1721, which involved a 12-member synod including hierarchs and clergy appointed by the czar.
‘The patriarchate and the dignity of the patriarch as president of the Synod were restored only in 1917’ by a Local Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church attended by 564 hierarchs, priests, and laypersons. The first patriarch to be enthroned after this synod was Metropolitan Tikhon.
‘The years that followed the restoration of the patriarchate were years of hard trials for the entire Russian Orthodox Church: thousands of clergy and monks were killed, and thousands of churches were shut down or demolished until the beginning of the Second World War,’ said Patriarch Daniel, adding the fact that at the end of this war ‘the persecution against the Church began also in other countries in Central and Eastern Europe where the atheist communist regime was established.’
In his speech, the patriarch cautioned that ‘who have then died for the faith must be commemorated with piety and respect.’
His Beatitude recalled that for the Romanian Patriarchate the year 2017 represents a time to commemorate and manifest gratitude towards Patriarch Justinian Marina, ‘a wise and diligent shepherd of the Romanian Orthodox Church’, and towards ‘all the defenders of Orthodoxy during communism in Romania.’
Given the tragedy experienced by the Orthodox peoples in Eastern Europe, all confessors and defenders of Orthodoxy during communist persecution were commemorated in Bucharest at the October 27 Divine Liturgy led by His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill.
Patriarch Daniel also referred to the current context which differentiates itself from communist persecution and called it ‘a period of freedom in confessing the faith, but also of a great pastoral responsibility in front of the new problems of the contemporary society.’
The Patriarch of Romania congratulated Patriarch Kirill, the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and lay believers ‘for their many efforts to renew church life and for the active presence of the Church in the life of the Russian society.’
In today’s world marked by a process of rapid secularisation and by religious pluralism, Patriarch Daniel pointed to the need to give priority to ‘maintaining the unity in faith of Orthodoxy, cultivating solidarity with those who suffer, and practical missionary cooperation.’
The Patriarch ended his address with a call to use today’s social freedom ‘to love God more and increase the missionary and philanthropic work of the Church in society.’
Photography courtesy of Robert Nicolae/ Basilica.ro