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REVEALED: Russian Orthodox Church VS. Roman Catholic Church

Here is how relations between the two Churches have developed throughout history.




MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Monday marks the beginning of the four-day visit of Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Russia, during which he is expected to hold meetings with Russian leadership and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest Christian Church uniting Catholic believers around the world. It is strictly centralized and hierarchical despite the existence of dozens of Local Catholic Churches in various countries. The Head of the Roman Catholic Church is the Pope, also known as the Pontiff, who has his residence in the Vatican.

Since the late 18th century and until 1917, Russia hosted the Apostolic Nunciature (embassy). The Metropolitan of the Roman Catholic Church in the Russian Empire was the Archbishop of Mogilev, who had his residence in St. Petersburg.

Under the Russo-Vatican Concordat of 1847, the Pope was recognized as the head of the Russian Catholics. In 1866, Russia broke off the Concordat unilaterally. The decision of St. Petersburg resulted in a situation whereby the Catholics of Russia and the Kingdom of Poland maintained contacts with the Roman Curia through the country’s interior ministers. All Catholic bishops were also appointed by the Russian emperors in agreement with the Pope.

READ MORE: The interesting history between Russia and the Vatican

After the October Revolution that took place in 1917, the Catholic priesthood came under the decree of the Soviet government on the separation of the Church from the State and the School from the Church issued on January 23, 1918 (on February 5, according to the Gregorian calendar).

In the USSR, there were two Roman Catholic hierarchies: the Lithuanian (the bishop’s jurisdiction extended only to Lithuania) and the Latvian (the Riga Archbishopric Ordinate ruled the Catholic Diocese in Latvia and dealt with Catholics in the entire USSR apart from Belarus, where an independent Minsk Diocese was formed in 1989).

Relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church reached a new level after the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965, which introduced substantive amendments to the social doctrine and the ecumenical principles of the Catholic Church and officially recognized the Orthodox Church. This enabled the Orthodox Church to start an official dialogue with the Catholic Church in 1980. A Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church has also been created.

Relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate became tense in the early 1990s. The main problem was Catholic proselytism in Russia and other member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as a conflict between Orthodox believers and Greek Catholics also known as Uniats in Western Ukraine.

By Catholic proselytism, the Moscow Patriarchate means “actions by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, directed at involving Russians lacking a historical link with that [Catholic] Church but belonging to the Orthodox tradition by baptism and cultural roots into the liturgical and other church practices.”

Another problem was caused by tensions in relations between the Orthodox believers and Greek Catholics in Ukraine. The problem was aggravated by the Uniats overrunning three eparchies of the Moscow Patriarchate in Western Ukraine at the turn of the 1990s, the transition of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church center from Lviv to Kiev, its persistent desire to obtain the status of a Patriarchate, the expansion of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church mission to the traditionally Orthodox Eastern and Southern Ukraine, and the support the Uniats were giving to the Old Believers.

A Joint Working Group was established in 2004 to consider problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The unsolved problems in the relations between the two Churches were the reason why Pope John Paul II’s visit to Russia never took place and why the meeting between the Pope and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II scheduled to be held in 1997 in Austria’s Graz, was canceled. During preliminary talks in 1997, the parties drafted a joint statement which, among other things, renounced Greek Catholicism as a means for reunifying the Churches and the Catholic proselytism in Russia and other CIS countries. But at the last moment, the top hierarchs of the Roman Catholic Church decided to drop these essential points from the joint document. This made the nearly organized meeting absolutely senseless.

The bilateral conflict became exacerbated in 2002, when Pope John Paul II decided to raise the status of the Catholic Church’s administrations in Russia to a diocese. This unfriendly step called forth a response from the Russian government, the Russian Orthodox Church and the public. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II, the Holy Synod, the Foreign Ministry, the country’s parliament and a number of influential public organizations, politicians, public and religious figures issued a statement on the issue. The Russian Orthodox Church was supported by representatives of other traditional faiths in Russia.

There is still the Uniate problem that prevents the two Churches from finally normalizing their relations. The situation has worsened as a result of recent events in Ukraine, in which Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church members are directly involved in anti-Russia activism and harbor anti-Russia sentiment.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s relations with the Roman Catholic Church are based on the Main Principles Guiding the Attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church toward the Non-Orthodoxy, which declare as the most important goal the “restoration of the God-ordained unity of Christians (John 17, 21), which is part of the design of God and belongs to the very essence of Christianity. This is a task of prime importance for the Orthodox Church at all levels of its existence.”

Apart from the nunciature-mediated dialogue, there are direct high-level contacts between President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Cardinal Kurt Koch and Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s External Church Relations Department, Metropolitan Hilarion. Planned meetings on cultural relations and student exchanges are held every year. Hilarion attends the most important events in the life of the Roman Catholic Church.

Cooperation is being promoted with the Pontifical Council for Culture, which includes several Orthodox hierarchs.

In February 2015, a working group for cultural cooperation was launched based on agreements reached between the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

On February 12, 2016, Cuba hosted the historic meeting between the Primates of the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox churches. Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis signed a joint declaration in Havana, which called on the world community to join efforts for the defense of Christians in the Middle East, Africa and other regions.

In 2016, the two Churches implemented several cultural cooperation projects, including the Roma Aeterna: Masterpieces of the Vatican Pinacoteca exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, which was attended by 163,000 people.

The historic meeting of Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis resulted in another event: the holy relics of St. Nicholas were brought from Bari, Italy to Russia, which was a unique event in the last 930 years. The artifact arrived in Moscow on May 21, 2017, and was deposited at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. On July 13, the relics were transferred to the St. Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg. Almost 2.5 million pilgrims venerated the relics while they were in Russia.

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ArtJohn R. NolanDonato Esperarosewood11Nikos Yiasou Recent comment authors
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What a stupid title for this rather innocuous article.

John R. Nolan
John R. Nolan

Why do people worship ‘church’ rather than God? Why are people pretending that a denominational church is anything more than a man controlled, hierarchical system of Spiritual and economic domination and, realistically, has nothing to do with God. There is One Church and One God, the Lord Jesus Christ is it’s head, not man! Note the high towers, gold plating, the religious garb, especially the mitres, the wealth, the power of the whore and her daughters, all contrary to what the Bible teaches. The pomp and religious ceremonies are straight out of Babylon, where man has been put over man,… Read more »


Contrary to some others posting here, I learned quite a bit from this article. I had thought the big problem between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches was primarily a dispute on doctrinal grounds. Those issues remain, but political issues and proselytizing are also major problems. Recently, a Protestant man who has family ties to Orthodoxy tried to tell me that Patriarch Kirill had signed on to acknowledge the Pope as head of the Church when they met in Cuba. I didn’t quite believe that knowing what I did at the time, but this article completely refutes that (happily because… Read more »

Donato Espera
Donato Espera

I agree with you, even though I’m a Roman Catholic. I pray for the union of Orthodox and Catholic Church in Christ, but not under Bergoglio’s heresy.

John R. Nolan
John R. Nolan

Yes, soon all denominations will be joined to the beast, already most are signed up, and all world leaders, including Mr. Putin, worship the beast instead of God.
Could you please explain Bergoglio’s heresy, other than his claim to be God?
Could any show where the pope is infallible?
One suggests, Donato, that you search out your salvation with fear and trembling, for the whore has no power to forgive sins; it is only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that there is mercy, redemption from this cursed flesh, not any religion of man.


I also am Catholic. I agree with you 1000%


Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch



The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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Massacre in Crimea kills dozens, many in critical condition

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran



“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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Russian Orthodox Church officially breaks ties with Constantinople

Biggest separation in almost 1,000 years as world’s largest Orthodox Church cuts communion with Constantinople over legitimizing schismatics.

Seraphim Hanisch



The schism between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate became official today, October 15, 2018, as the Russian Holy Synod reviewed the recent granting of communion to two schismatic groups in Ukraine, pursuant to Constantinople’s intent to grant autocephaly (full self-rule, or independence) to the agglomeration of these groups.

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RT reported that the Synod ruled that any further clerical relations with Constantinople are impossible, given the current conditions. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev told journalists today about the breach in relations:

“A decision about the full break of relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate has been taken at a Synod meeting” that is currently been held in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Hilarion said, as cited by TASS.

The move comes days after the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate decided to eventually grant the so-called autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, thus making the clerical organization, which earlier enjoyed a broad autonomy within the Moscow Patriarchate, fully independent.

The Moscow Patriarchate also said that it would not abide by any decisions taken by Constantinople and related to the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “All these decisions are unlawful and canonically void,” Hilarion said, adding that “the Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize these decisions and will not follow them.”

At the same time, the Russian Church expressed its hope that “a common sense will prevail” and Constantinople will change its decision. However, it still accused the Ecumenical Patriarch of initiating the “schism.”

The marks the most significant split in the Orthodox Church since the Great Schism of 1054, in which Rome excommunicated Constantinople, a breach between the Roman Catholics and Orthodox which has persisted ever since then, becoming hardened and embittered after the Roman Catholic armies sacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

Many other local Orthodox Churches expressed support for the Moscow Patriarchate’s position prior to today’s announcement, but the break in relations between these two churches does not have any known affect on local churches who hold communion with both Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchate at this time.

The website ran the entire statement of the Holy Synod regarding this situation. We offer a brief summary of statements here, taken from that source and, adding emphasis.

With deepest pain, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church received the message of the Patriarchate of Constantinople published on October 11, 2018 about the decisions adopted by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: on the confirmation of the intention to “grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church”; on the opening of the “stavropegion” of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Kiev; on the “restoration in the hierarchal or priestly rank” of the leaders of the Ukrainian schism and their followers and the “return of their faithful to Church communion”; and on the “cancellation of the action” of the conciliar charter of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1686 concerning the transfer of the Kiev Metropolia to the Moscow Patriarchate

The Synod of the Church of Constantinople made these decisions unilaterally, ignoring the calls of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the entirety of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the fraternal Local Orthodox Churches, and their primates and bishops for pan-Orthodox discussion of the issue.

Entering into communion with those who have departed into schism, let alone those who have been excommunicated from the Church, is tantamount to departing into schism and is severely condemned by the canons of the holy Church: “If any one of the bishops, presbyters, or deacons, or any of the clergy shall be found communicating with excommunicated persons, let him also be excommunicated, as one who brings confusion on the order of the Church” (Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch; Canon 10, 11 of the Holy Apostles).

The decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the “restoration” of the canonical status and the reception into communion of the former Metropolitan Philaret Denisenko, excommunicated from the Church, ignores a number of successive decisions of the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, the legitimacy of which are beyond doubt.

By the decision of the Bishops’ Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kharkov of May 27, 1992, Metropolitan Philaret (Denisenko) was removed from the Kiev Cathedra and was banned from the clergy for not fulfilling the oath made by him before the cross and the Gospel at the previous Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

By its ruling of June 11,1992, the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, confirmed the decision of the Kharkov Council and expelled Philaret Denisenko from his rank, depriving him of every degree of the priesthood on the following charges: “Cruel and arrogant attitude to the subordinate clergy, dictatorialness, and intimidation (Tit. 1:7-8; Canon 27 of the Holy Apostles); introducing temptation among the faithful by his behavior and personal life (Matthew 18:7; Canon 3 of the First Ecumenical Council, Canon 5 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council); oath-breaking (Canon 25 of the Holy Apostles); public slander and blasphemy against the Bishops’ Council (Canon 6 of the Second Ecumenical Council); the celebration of clerical functions, including ordinations, in a state of suspension (Canon 28 of the Holy Apostles); the perpetration of a schism in the Church (Canon 15 of the First-Second Council).” All ordinations performed by Philaret in a suspended state since May 27, 1992, and the punishments imposed by him, were declared invalid.

Despite repeated calls for repentance, after the deprivation of his hierarchal rank Philaret Denisenko continued his schismatic activity, including within the bounds of other Local Churches. By the ruling of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of 1997, he was given over to anathema.

The aforesaid decisions were recognized by all the Local Orthodox Churches, including the Church of Constantinople.

… Now, after more than two decades, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has changed its position for political reasons.

… St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, in his Pedalion, which is an authoritative source of ecclesiastical-canonical law of the Church of Constantinople, interprets Canon 9 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, rejecting the false opinion on the right of Constantinople to consider appeals from other Churches: “The Primate of Constantinople does not have the right to act in the dioceses and provinces of other Patriarchs, and this rule did not give him the right to take appeals on any matter in the Ecumenical Church… “ Listing a whole range of arguments in favor of this interpretation, referring to the practice of the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, St. Nikodemos concludes: “At present … the Primate of Constantinople is the first, the only, and the last judge over the metropolitans subordinate to him—but not over those who are subject to the rest of the Patriarchs. For, as we said, the last and universal judge of all the Patriarchs is the Ecumenical Council and no one else.” It follows from the above that the Synod of the Church of Constantinople does not have canonical rights to withdraw judicial decisions rendered by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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