His Holiness Patriarch KIRILL
Primate of the
Russian Orthodox Church
Hierarchs of the
Almost a year ago, the previous Sunday of Orthodoxy,
on the instructions of the Holy Synod of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate
I addressed Your Holiness, as well as the head
of the UOC (Moscow Patriarchate) Metropolitan Volodymyr and other hierarchs
Triumph of Orthodoxy, fulfilling the duty of
through this open letter I am addressing you again on
issues referring to the very bases of the Orthodox faith.
regarding the practice of the
so-called “re-baptism”, which is applied by many representatives of the Moscow
Patriarchate to those who were baptized by the Kyiv Patriarchate. In this letter,
published openly and undoubtedly received by Your Holiness, the stance of the Kyiv
Patriarchate was expanded and substantiated, the point being that the
practice of “re-baptism”
applied by the
clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate
has no canonical or pastoral grounds and
explicitly contradicts the Creed and the dogmas of the Orthodox faith.
During the year
that passed since, the message mentioned was obviously disregarded by You and we
saw no response to it, except for the speeches of several hierarchs, whose stance
found substantiation rather in their dislike of the Kyiv Patriarchate than in
the teaching of the Church.
of re-baptism still continues - and it is in spite of the fact that
official document of the
Patriarchate or of the UOC-MP that would prescribe such practice and provide
canonical grounding for it ever exists.
It urges me
to address Your Holiness and the fellow archpastors of the Moscow Patriarchate
again, right on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, with an appeal
to stop the practice of re-baptism, since such kind of practice is
nothing else than breach of the dogmas and canons of the Church of Christ, distortion
of the Creed, and moreover –
blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
the ones “rebaptizing” those who have already been once baptized reject
thereby the action of the Holy Spirit in those who confess the Orthodox faith
and have taken baptism in accordance with the provisions of the Orthodox
Even the great
Fathers of the Church and the Ecumenical Councils treated with great caution
the issue of recognition of the validity of the Sacrament of Baptism,
recognizing the baptism performed by the explicit heretics
- the Arians
(the First Ecumenical Council),
(the Second Ecumenical Council), the Nestorians
Third Ecumenical Council), the Monophysites
(the Fourth Ecumenical
Council). However, not having accused us of any heresies, not having presented
sufficient canonical groundings, but acting
exclusively out of your own volition, you state that
the baptism performed in the Kyiv
Patriarchate is not valid.
The Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers, feeling
reverence for the mystery of action of the Holy Spirit and condescending to human
weakness, did not dare to consider to be totally deprived of grace even the
Sacrament of Baptism performed by the heretics – and you dare to call grace-deprived
and even ‘devil-pleasing’ the baptism performed in the Orthodox Church,
rejected by you from communion not for the heresy, but for the desire to be an
equal Local Church-sister, not subjected to your authorities.
It is also
did not find an opportunity to answer to our message
In this connection a well-known gospel saying
comes to our mind: “
He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to
Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these
things, and who gave You this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask
you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I
do these things. “The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from
men?” And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From
heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’” “But if we
say, ‘From men,’ we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.”
And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know”
are governed by the political, not canonical
the statements and the official
documents of the Moscow Patriarchate.
‘Basic Principles of the Attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church toward
the other Christian Confessions’ reads as follows
I’m bringing to your notice the
words I have underscored
fact that the point in question are the
communities while the Kyiv Patriarchate is
Orthodox Church, through the mouths of the holy fathers, affirms that salvation
can be attained only in the
Christ. At the same
fallen away from Orthodoxy have never been viewed as fully deprived of the
grace of God. Any break from communion with the Church inevitably leads to
an erosion of her grace-filled life, but not always to its complete loss in
these separated communities. This is why the Orthodox Church does not receive
those coming to her from non-Orthodox communities only through the Sacrament of
Baptism. In spite of the rupture of unity, there remains a certain incomplete
fellowship which serves as the pledge of a return to unity in the Church, to
catholic fullness and oneness.
The ecclesial status of those who
have separated themselves from the Church does not lend itself to simple
divided Christendom, there are still certain characteristics which make it one:
the Word of God, faith in Christ as God and Saviour come in the flesh (1 John
1:1-2; 4, 2, 9), and sincere devotion.
existence of various rites of reception (through Baptism, through Chrismation,
through Repentance) shows that the Orthodox Church relates to the different
non-Orthodox confessions in different ways.
The criterion is the degree to which the faith and order of the Church,
as well as the norms of Christian spiritual life, are preserved in a particular
confession. By establishing various rites of reception, however,
the Orthodox Church
does not assess the
extent to which grace-filled life has either been preserved intact or distorted
in a non-Orthodox confession, considering this to be a mystery of
providence and judgement.”
“have never been viewed as fully
deprived of the grace of God”. However, when
orthodox Kyiv Patriarchate, you state without
any doubt that this Church is “deprived of grace”.
Your write that “the ecclesial status of
those who have separated themselves from the Church does not lend itself to
simple definition” – but expressing no doubt you state both orally and in writing
that all the Orthodox Christians belonging to the Kyiv Patriarchate are
allegedly out of the Church of Christ, and therefore are destined for
condemnation, perdition and eternal tortures.
degree to which the faith and order of the
Church, as well as the norms of Christian spiritual life, are preserved. At the
same time you treat Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and
Jews much better than the orthodox Kyiv
communicate and cooperate with them, and treat us the same way
as the Old-Testament Jews treated
The degree of
preservation or distortion of the grace-filled life in non-orthodox communities
a mystery of God's
providence and judgement
for you. However quite in
an arbitrary way you make judgments on the presence of the God’s grace in the Kyiv
Patriarchate, calling it “grace-deprived” – and not only do it yourselves but
teach the clergy and people to act the same way, intensifying hatred of the “canonical
orthodox” towards the “non-canonical” ones.
All these are
the bitter evidences that the relations with the other confessions in the
Moscow Patriarchate are established rather on the grounds of contest and misinterpreted
interests of the Russian Orthodox Church than on the grounds of the teaching
and the canonical tradition of the
Christ. According to
the logic of your actions, in order that our Sacraments were recognized and we
were no longer called ‘grace-deprived’, the Kyiv Patriarchate ought to deny
orthodoxy and to adopt heterodoxy.
the Kyiv Patriarchate went into a Union with the Vatican, proclaimed catholic dogmas
and even settled down to a course of Reformation, then, in compliance with the
“Basic Principles”, the Moscow Patriarchate would not affirm that “the UOC-KP
is a grace-deprived community”, as it is the case now.
you would recognize the baptism we perform!
approach is unworthy of the orthodox hierarchs – especially of those who
proudly bear the name of the “canonical hierarchs”.
in their excuse our opponents from
the Russian Orthodox Church would call in question the orthodox character of
the Kyiv Patriarchate.
However, these doubts are
as it may be understood from the following. For when You were still in
the office of Metropolitan of Smolensk in July 2006, You wrote in Your letter
to the UGCC head, Cardinal Lubomyr Huzar, You noted: “The majority of the population
of the West of Ukraine have not returned into the
but continued to identify themselves with the Orthodoxy,
even entering into the
non-canonical groupings. The proportion between the Greek-Catholic and
orthodox parishes in
testifies to this fact.
fall at 860
orthodox parishes by confession, though the most part of them belong to
non-canonical jurisdictions for the reasons you well know.”
It is pleasant that even in such a way, criticizing
the stance of the Greek-Catholics and wishing to intensify Your own stance,
Your recognize the parishes of the Kyiv Patriarchate to be orthodox.
actions of the Moscow Patriarchate representatives does not reduce itself to
the issue of validity of the baptism performed in the Kyiv Patriarchate.
More than once both Your Holiness as well as
the other hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate declared that you have love
towards the faithful of the Kyiv Patriarchate as towards the seceded
But love is manifested through
the deeds, not through the words. We cannot say that you do not have this love
at all – some of you do, but not many. The majority is either indifferent or
have the feelings towards us which are far from brotherly and even from Christian.
As the deed
of love we consider
the working groups set up by the Synods of the Kyiv
Patriarchate and the UOC (MP) not just met, but managed to start successfully the
process of preparation for the dialogue between our Churches
. However, as it became obvious soon
after the beginning of this process, such a good initiative met the
fiercest opposition from the
aggressively biased part of the Moscow Patriarchate
. Its participants received abuse of the zealots
and the external forces tried to introduce discord
in the very work of the working groups by means of the staff reappointments
on the long way towards obtainment of the Church unity in
will be continued, whether the real
steps towards overcoming of the existing controversies will be taken
, or the struggle for the power over
the Church in Ukraine will go on under the guise of brotherly love.
During the past years we sent a multitude of
letters and messages to the address of the Moscow Patriarchate and the other
As it was testified in these documents,
sincerely seeks to achieve mutual
understanding with the Plenitude of the
including the Russian Orthodox
and to enter into the full communion
with it as
equal in rights.
but we are ready to testify with love and peace further on our desire to
restore the ecclesiastical peace and unity.
So, our messages
remained unanswered. However, the Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom inspires us to
write and witness, in spite of anything:
“But you will ask me: how do you help by
preaching? I help if anyone hears me.
I do my duty; he who sows, sows.
Matthew 13, 3-8).
he did not cease from working the
it should not bring forth some
harvest for me. If
listens, let him hear”.
As it may
be supposed, this message will remain without response too. Without response,
but I do not believe that without fruit
. By our letters and messages we want to evidence
Church. Therefore it is not
persuasiveness of our words or the power of our influence that we rely on, but
the God of Truth, the Chief Shepherd and the Head of the Church Jesus Christ
. “For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.” Even if He waits on high to have
compassion on us
– we are aggrieved over that and place our hope on the God’s mercy.
We know that
power is perfected in weakness
(2 Corinthians 12:9), we see
how God help us in our sorrows and hardships and hope that He will lead the
Ukrainian Orthodox Church along the way He knows to unity, and the Kyiv
Patriarchate – to recognition.
occasion of the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy
I heartily wish You, Your Holiness, and you,
fellow archpastors, the graceful assistance of God in your
for the benefit of the
May Our Lord Jesus Christ
send all of us reconciliation and unanimous confession of the Orthodox
faith, and the unity in Spirit and Truth to His Church!
With love in Christ
Patriarch of Kyiv
and All Rus-Ukraine
February 21, 2010
Sunday of Orthodoxy