The number two of the Russian Orthodox Church reacted, on December 12, 2021, on the Rossiya-24 channel, to the remarks made, on December 6, by Pope Francis on the plane back from Greece to Rome.
The Sovereign Pontiff then declared: “I am ready to go to Moscow… My meeting with Patriarch Kirill is on the horizon.”
Without confirming or denying the prospect of a meeting at the highest level between the Successor of Peter and the head of the Russian Church - which would be the second in the current pontificate - Metropolitan Hilarion insisted on leaving no room for any equivocation:
“Nobody talks about the reunion of the two Churches, because our divisions are very old, contradictions have accumulated; the two Churches have been living their own lives for nearly nine centuries,” he insisted.
In the eyes of the Russian hierarch, “Unity is out of the question, but what would be possible is that we put an end to the situation of rivalry, competition, and enmity, which has existed for many centuries.”
Then, Hilarion did not fail to point to the “errors” of the Catholics and “the violence exercised by the Church against the Orthodox.” Could we be seeing the boomerang effect of the many repentances expressed by the highest authorities of the Catholic Church in recent decades?
“[In the case of Uniatism] the Orthodox were allowed to keep their rite, but they were to join the Catholic Church, adopt Catholic doctrine, including that of the universal jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome.”
For Hilarion of Volokolamsk, uniatism is “a deception, because many Orthodox devotees, when they switched to uniatism, did not suspect that they were changing their faith. Indeed, outwardly everything remained as before - the garments of the Church were the same; the prayers at the liturgy were the same; the chant of the Church was the same.”
So many words which have the merit of clarity, but which are effectively a slap in the face for all the faithful in Ukraine in particular, who have sometimes sacrificed their lives in order to maintain unity with the Holy See.
Moreover, Ukrainian Catholics risk being sacrificed on the altar of the normalization of relations between Rome and the Moscow Patriarchate:
“When Patriarch Kirill met the Pope in Havana, they made a joint declaration clearly saying that uniatism is not a method to achieve unity,” the Metropolitan did not fail to recall.
At this time - and although Peter's successor met Hilarion in Rome on December 22 - no date or place is mentioned regarding the hypothetical meeting between Kirill and Pope Francis.