The Russian hierarch acknowledges that there are only about 2,000 Orthodox believers among Turkish citizens, but there are now “tens of thousands of Russian-speaking residents” of that country, “not counting the constant flow of Russian tourists.” They want to know where they should go to pray.
Up to now, Illarion says, Moscow restrained from taking independent action out of deference to the Constantinople Patriarch but now that the latter has violated the canonical territory of Russia, Moscow no longer feels the need to hold back. Instead, it is sending its own priests to Turkey to support the faithful.
Apparently, the first case of this took place yesterday when a priest from Russia held an Orthodox service in the church on the territory of the Russian consulate general in Istanbul. That church had been jointly consecrated by the two patriarchs, Kirill and Bartholemew, in 2009 (