Ecumenical Patriarchate

The Ecumenical Throne and the Church of Ukraine

Synodal Letter to the Patriarch of Moscow in the year 1686

The apostolic word is that all things ought to be done for the purpose of edification, whether this concerns what we do or what we say, so that the objective of our actions should be to instruct our neighbor and guide our brother to his benefit. For the divine apostle recommends that neither should we ever cease from seeing all people as our brothers nor should we refrain from advising them toward correction, leading them toward salvation and reminding each of them not to neglect their own promise but rather, with vigilant eyes and focused impulses of the mind, to urge each one of them to their proper healing. This is precisely how, to this very day, those of us who have succeeded the apostles in this promise must conduct ourselves. For reasons known to the omniscient and omnipotent God, who governs all things, our modesty has also inherited this promise among those successors, which is why we have presided over the synodal meeting of our venerable brother hierarchs. There, venerable letters appeared from: 1) the most serene, most Orthodox and divinely crowned royalty, the great principals of Moscovy, their excellencies and brothers Ivan Alexeyevich and Peter Alexeyevich, also emperors of the greater and lesser and white Russia, as well as of many protectorates, along with native lands of the east, west and north, descendants of their forefathers and precious rulers according to the Lord, while at the same time beloved sons of our own innermost selves; and 2) His Beatitude venerable Patriarch Joachim of Moscovy and All Russia, our beloved brother and concelebrant in the Holy Spirit, as well as the most pious and most eminent subject of the aforementioned preeminent and great emperors of the Zaporizhian regiments on both sides of the Dnieper River region, their beloved son and Ataman Ivan Samuilovich.

Wherefore, we declare that, inasmuch as the Eparchy of Kyiv is subjected to the supreme and most holy Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople, it would therefore always have received from this throne the ordination of its hierarch in accordance with the command of the sacred canons; however, inasmuch as this metropolis has been vacant for a number of years now, while much time has also elapsed since the ordination of its authentic hierarch because of certain battles transpiring between the two vast empires; and inasmuch as this moment and occasion has been expediently seized by the enemy of the right, true, holy and blameless faith of Orthodox Christians, sowing weeds and thorns among the wheat (that is to say, within Orthodoxy), which risks becoming subdued by foreign and hostile mentalities; for this reason, then, we have been asked with great respect and heartfelt petition to grant permission to His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscovy to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv whenever this metropolis is deprived of an authentic hierarch, or in the case where its acting hierarch—duly elected in that eparchy by its own bishops, archimandrites, abbots of its holy monasteries, and others, as is customary—is ever defrocked on reasonable grounds, that this community may not henceforth remain unprotected, especially since it is apparent to everyone that this difficult matter is extremely complicated at this time, when the enemy of the truth, namely the devil, is already sowing the weeds of heresy and schismatic teachings. So our preeminent and mighty sovereign kingdom directed that, in response to the request of this most serene and profoundly Christian empire to avoid any kind of hurdle in this case. Wherefore, inasmuch as our modesty happens to preside over the Ecumenical Throne and acknowledges that we must demonstrate as much care as possible to those who require such care, we gladly welcomed this petition as being reasonable and right, meriting an address on our part concerning those things that we have been entrusted from God, which is also why we have deemed it worthy of protecting in writing herewith.

Thus, in recording this with the hierarchs of our holy synod, our most honorable and beloved brothers and concelebrants in the Holy Spirit, we resolve: That the most holy Eparchy of Kyiv should be subjected to the most holy patriarchal throne of the great and God-saved city Moscovy, by which we mean that the Metropolitan of Kyiv should be ordained there, whenever such need arises, by His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscovy as the one elected by those in that eparchy, namely the right reverend bishops, very reverend archimandrites, righteous abbots of the holy and venerable monasteries, righteous hieromonks, pious clergy, righteous monks, rulers and others, at the exhortation and with the permission of the most distinguished great Ataman there, which has prevailed as the custom in that region, in order to receive from him the said act in writing, while recognizing him as his elder and presiding (hierarch), since he has been ordained by him, rather than by the ecumenical patriarch, as mentioned above, on account of the immense distance and the battles transpiring between the two kingdoms. We adopted a manner of condescension in accordance with the very old custom and granted to him such permission for reasons of οἰκονομία. Nevertheless, whenever this Metropolitan of Kyiv celebrates the sacred, holy and bloodless sacrifice in this diocese, he should commemorate among the first the venerable name of the Ecumenical Patriarch as his source and authority, and as superior to all dioceses and eparchies everywhere, followed by the commemoration of the Patriarch of Moscovy as his elder, without any resistance or refusal whatsoever in this, but accepting it as a reasonable and right act. Whosoever conceives anything contradictory to this, or in any other way seeks to disobey or demonstrate opposition to the command of the Lord, will in return receive appropriate penalties by the Lord as despising the patriarchs, who are the living and breathing images of God. Wherefore, this synodal Letter of Issue was written in declaration and confirmation of this matter in the sacred codex of our Great Church of Christ, and after being recorded, it was handed to His Beatitude Patriarch Joachim of Moscovy in the year of the Lord 1686, the month of June of the 9th indiction.