Since March 2014, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill (Gundyaev) has traveled to most Russian regions, visited many countries in Europe, Turkey, Cuba, South America and even Antarctica, but never officially arrived in the Russian Crimea. The peninsula was also not visited by the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Onufry (Berezovsky), to which Crimea continues to belong. According to the publication of the portal “New time”, this is due to the peculiarities of church-administrative division and the situation with the Church in Ukraine.
It is known that the Moscow Patriarchate covers not only Russia, but also the CIS countries, and also has parishes in Southeast Asia, South America and Europe, although this is not allowed in the Tomos that was granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. That means Constantinople could at any time claim back the Tomos or to obtain all the parishes out of the geographical area is mentioned in the Tomos of the Russian Patriarchate.
Moreover, only more religious than Russia, Ukraine accounts for about 12 thousand parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate – this is about 40% of the entire church infrastructure of the Russian Orthodox Church, Novoye Vremya reports .
In order not to lose these parishes, Patriarch Kirill has not publicly commented on this event for all five years since the annexation of Crimea, has not officially participated in events related to his anniversaries, and has not even visited Crimea.
By the way, the dioceses of the Moscow Patriarchate in Crimea are still legally related to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The article emphasizes that they try not to mention this on temple tablets and even in official documents, simply indicating the neutral “Moscow Patriarchate”. It is curious, but a similar situation exists on the territory of Ukraine – the name Ukrainian Orthodox Church is emphasized there, while mention is made of the fact that it is part of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
By the way, a similar situation has developed in the self-proclaimed republics of Donbass, which canonically is not a territory of Russian, but the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate claim this area too.
The article emphasizes that according to established practice, the canonical territory of each Church is limited by the size of the state in which it is located. That is why, for example, when Georgia was part of the Russian Empire, the Georgian Church was not independent, and in 1943 the Moscow Patriarchate, revived with the support of Joseph Stalin, recognized the independence of the Georgian Orthodox Church, since the Georgian SSR was formally a separate republic, along with the RSFSR composition of the Soviet Union. But now, writes New Time, the Moscow Patriarchate is trying not to refer to this practice, since it will have to abandon parishes outside the Russian Federation, primarily in Ukraine.
The official comments of the press service of Patriarch Kirill and the Moscow Patriarchate on why the primate of the Russian Church does not visit Crimea have not been made public at the moment.