Staunton, Oct. 16 – Two days after hosting the senior religious leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow, Patriarchate Kirill orchestrated via a special online meeting of the Holy Synod the creation of a Yerevan-Armenian bishopric of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
And he appointed to its head Archbishop Leonid who retains his position as deputy head of the ROC MP’s Department of External Church Relations and is widely viewed as Kirill’s point man in the projection of the power of the Moscow Patriarchate beyond the borders of the Russian Federation in the Middle East and Africa (patriarchia.ru/db/text/5853045.html).
While there have long been a small number of ROC MP churches in Armenia, they have always been under bishoprics located beyond the borders of that republic; and the creation of a bishopric for them within Armenia raises questions about Moscow’s intentions there and also about new ROC MP churches in Qarabagh.
The ROC MP in the past has always been respectful of the Armenian Apostolic Church, religious affairs expert Aleksandr Soldatov writes in Novaya gazeta; but now it has taken an action which looks like a challenge to Armenian Catholicos Geregin II and his ancient church (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/10/15/prisoedinenie-armenii).
That move has already sparked an angry reaction among many Armenians who view it as an effort to Russify their religion and their country, and it has raised serious questions about what Moscow’s intentions are regarding church administration of parishes set up in Qarabagh for the Russian forces now there (regnum.ru/news/polit/3399581.html