Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow since 2009, was removed from office by the Holy Synod of Russia, according to an announcement in the Orthodox Times on June 7, 2022.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow dismissed Hilarion from his duties as president of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and Metropolitan of Vololamsk. The man who was the right arm of the patriarch had distanced himself from the positions taken by the patriarchate on the war in Ukrain.
After the regular meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Synod communicated firstly its decision to dismiss Metropolitan Markos of Budapest and Hungary from the administration of the diocese, while thanking him for the work accomplished.
Then, the statement continued that “Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk will be the administrator of the Metropolis of Budapest-Hungary, with his exemption from the duties of president of the Department of External Church Relations and permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
It was also decided that the President of the Department for External Church Relations and permanent member of the Holy Synod will be Metropolitan Anthony of Korsun, with temporary preservation of the direction of the Exarchate of Western Europe and the position of head of the office of the Patriarchate of Moscow for foreign institutions, with exemption from the management of the Diocese of Korsun.
In the previous weeks, the efforts of Metropolitan Hilarion to differentiate himself from the aggressive attitude of the Patriarch of Moscow and his full identification with the Kremlin’s demands, were clearly noticeable.
He first met with Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus in Cyprus, in the framework of the Orthodox Assembly of the World Council of Churches, despite the fact that the Church of Russia has interrupted Eucharistic communion with the Archbishop of Cyprus, after the latter recognized the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine.
He was then present at the pre-conference of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and approved the final text, which spoke of a unanimous condemnation of the war raging in Ukraine.
“Hilarion also spoke of ‘temporary difficulties’ in the Orthodox Church, which will be overcome ‘definitely,’ and that ‘a pan-Orthodox or inter-Orthodox solution will be found, which will allow the healing of the wounds inflicted on the body of world Orthodoxy and will restore full communion between the Churches.’”