Staunton, July 5 – Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s exarchate for Africa, says that the number of priests who have left the Alexandrian patriarchate to join Moscow has doubled from about 100 when the exarchate was formed in December 2021 to about 200 now.
That is a significant number, although most of the parishes involved are either very small and do not have their own church buildings or only are servicing Russian citizens, including members of private military companies, living in Africa (exarchate-africa.ru/news/chislo-klirikov-patriarshego-ekzarkhata-afriki-vyroslo-vdvoe-v-2022-godu).
The Moscow exarchate in Africa has deepened the divides in the Orthodox world because its creation and operation violates the canonical territory of the ancient Alexandrian Patriarchate. Moscow took this action because that church body has supported the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
It has also raised more general alarms because some, perhaps many of the Orthodox church priests working in Africa now under the direction of the Moscow Patriarchate are acting as agents for the Russian intelligence services (jamestown.org/program/moscow-patriarchate-moves-into-africa-helping-kremlin-but-roiling-orthodox-world/).
Thus, any growth in the size of the exarchate is a matter of concern not only among the leaders of the Orthodox world but also among those in Africa and elsewhere who are concerned about the expansion of Russia’s intelligence operations abroad.