Ukrainian Church crisis: what’s going on

The Patriarchate of Constantinople intends to unilaterally grant autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. On the development of the events of recent weeks – a review of “Prawira”.

  • Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich): Creation of a unified Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church and political project
  • And whether autocephaly?
  • Someone in the Ukraine need autocephaly and what’s going on
  • The most dramatic consequences will be for citizens of Ukraine
  • Ukrainian autocephaly: the most important thing right now

The meeting of the Patriarchs and the appointment of the exarchs

August 31, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill met in Istanbul with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Officially, the agenda of the meeting and its outcome was not disclosed. At the conclusion of the meeting, Metropolitan Hilarion said that she was “very brotherly and cordial” and dealt with topics that are on the agenda of bilateral relations and pan-Orthodox relations.

“From beginning to end, the discussion was very sincere and very fraternal in nature. We left Constantinople with very light feelings and with a very good mood”, — concluded the Metropolitan.

That evening the Greek media and the representatives of the “Kiev Patriarchate” reported that the Patriarch of Constantinople intends to give the autocephaly of the UOC. The Synodal information Department of the UOC called this information a fake.

Less than a week, the Head of the Church of Constantinople said that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has exclusive rights to the decision of problems of the Orthodox world and is committed “to the unity and stability of Orthodoxy, to the total Church witness.”

“The Ecumenical Patriarchate is responsible for the preservation of the unity and coordination of inter-Orthodox relations and pan-Orthodox initiatives, carries out this sacred service in the Orthodox world, faithfully adhering to inviolable ecclesiological and canonical principles of the traditions of our fathers”, — said the head of the Church of Constantinople.

This was followed by the statement that Patriarch Bartholomew “in preparation for the granting of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine” was appointed as their exarchs in Kiev: Archbishop Daniel Pamphylian from the USA and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton Canada. This information was confirmed in the UOC.

The reaction of the world of Orthodoxy

Information on the appointment of the Exarch was received in the Orthodox world negatively. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church strongly protested against these actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, stating that “this decision was made without approval of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill and Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Onuphrius and is a gross violation of Church canons, bishops proscribe the same Local Church to interfere in the internal life and Affairs of another Autocephalous Church.”

“These actions lead to stalled relations between the Russian and Constantinople churches are a real threat to the unity of the world Orthodoxy”, — noted in the statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church.

In the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in response to the actions of Constantinople also declared that “the appointment of the Exarch is a gross violation of canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

“The modus operandi of Constantinople is contrary to the canons, as the bishops of every Local Church can come to the territory of another Church, and especially to perform some actions only with the permission of the Primate of the local Church,” commented the Deputy Chairman of the Department for external Church relations of the UOC Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich.

The Moscow Patriarchate warned to cease communication with Constantinople in case of the granting of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, as their actions Constantinople “will split all the Orthodox world”.

“The canonical autocephaly of the Church that will not accept, we in the Russian Church, of course, this autocephaly is not recognized and will have no other choice but to break off communication with Constantinople,” — said Metropolitan Hilarion.

Metropolitan Hilarion noted that during a meeting in Istanbul “Constantinople side is not only heard our arguments, but even entered, from our point of view, the cowardly and treacherous.”

Concerns about the consequences of the catastrophic consequences of acts of Constantinople began to make the heads of the local Churches. The Synod of the Belarusian Orthodox Church decided to “protest against the acts of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, because it represents the aggressive intervention of one Local Church in the internal Affairs of another Local Church aimed at undermining the foundations of the inter-Orthodox peace and unity“.

The Polish Orthodox Church issued a statement saying that autocephaly can be granted only after consultation with all the local Churches and the hasty actions can deepen the split in Ukraine.

“In Ukraine there are several schismatic churches of the Orthodox Church that needs to repent and return to the canons of the Orthodox Church. Only then will the discussion on the granting of autocephaly”, — was stated in the letter of the Secretary of the office of the Polish Church.

Indignation at the decision of Patriarch Bartholomew expressed the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. The purpose of the exarchs there also called “gross and unprecedented invasion of one Church to a foreign canonical territory,” which “threatens the unity of the Holy Orthodoxy.”

Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem called on the Ukrainian Orthodox not to lose hope and to keep their Primate, Metropolitan Onufriy.
According to Patriarch Theophilus, the recent events around the Church life of Ukraine — one of the manifestations of globalization, which “has as its main goal the destruction of the Orthodox Church.”

“The tentacles of globalization are trying to penetrate in the Church body, to destroy it. It occurs worldwide, including in Ukraine. The intervention of politicians in the Affairs of the Church, one Church in the Affairs of another under the influence of politicians — these are signs of this process”, — said the head of the Jerusalem Orthodox Church.

To support Metropolitan Onufry called on the Russian Orthodox Church.

An Extraordinary Synod

For decision on the Ukrainian question, the Patriarch convened in Moscow, an extraordinary session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. Following the meeting, members took the decision to suspend the concelebration with the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the commemoration of the Patriarch of Constantinople and part of the Russian Church in all the institutions that preside, or being co-chaired by Constantinople.

“The reasons for this decision lies in the fact that the Constantinople Patriarchate illegally invaded the territory of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine, appointing his exarchs. For over 300 years, the status of the Kyiv metropolis to the Moscow Patriarchate was not challenged. Now this challenge started. This position strongly disagree”, – said the Chairman of the Department for external Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Metropolitan Hilarion said that despite the fact that the Russian Church stops the commemoration of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the concelebration with his bishops, it does not mean a complete severance of Eucharistic relations.

“If everything goes as well continue, we will be forced to fully interrupt the Eucharistic relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate,” stressed Metropolitan Hilarion.

Metropolitan Kiparsky and Anticiparse Seraphim called the Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew to repent and to cease to provoke further division of the Church.

“I was deeply saddened upon hearing about the termination of ecclesiastical communion of the Patriarchate of Russia with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. These sad and disastrous results has led to the persistence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the autocephaly of the Ukrainian schismatics who are separated from our Holy Orthodox Church, that is, from all the Orthodox Patriarchates and Autocephalous local Orthodox churches, constitute a small minority of the Ukrainian people”, — said the Metropolitan.

The primates of Alexandria and Polish Churches urged to help solve jointly the “Church of the misunderstandings related to the granting of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church.”

“We, the heads of two local Churches…in the spirit of brotherly love we appeal to all who influence the Church to overcome misunderstandings related to the granting of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, to do everything that depends on them, to avoid conflict over this issue and establish Church order on the Ukrainian land”, — reads the statement of the primates.

Ukraine – the reaction of the Church and the authorities

The Synod decided that the “Exarch” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople Archbishop Amfiliki Daniel and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton needs to leave the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The participants of the Synod have come to believe that “their activity is anticanonically and violates inter-confessional peace in Ukraine” and is a “gross interference in the internal Affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and violation of its canonical territory.”

The bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church approved to suspend the concelebration with the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Members of the Holy Synod called upon the clergy, monastics and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “to intensify their prayers for the preservation of the unity of the Holy Orthodoxy.”

The Synod urged the Verkhovna Rada not to divide the faithful inhabitants of the country into friends and foes to abandon the “anti-constitutional bills under consideration in the Verkhovna Rada”.

The Metropolitan Onufry said that “the Tomos of autocephaly will be a restriction of freedom,” which is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

“We are an independent Church. And we have all the attributes of independence that we need today for normal service to God and people…Tomos is the limitation of freedom that we have today. We do not need. We have independence, autonomy, have all the attributes of free life needed for successful Church of spiritual service to people. What we have with the Moscow Patriarchate, spiritual, devotional, canonical, and cultural ties — this is normal. It should be so. The Church is not a political organization, which one loves and another hates, and tomorrow will be different”, — said the Primate of the UOC.

From the meeting with the Exarch of Constantinople, Metropolitan Onufry refused.

“Those representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who arrived in Ukraine with a specific task, in our opinion, are here and are anticanonical The bishops came arbitrarily, and not just as pilgrims but with a clear objective – to implement some of their projects. Given all this, we must admit the absence of any direct dialogue with Panaram”, – said the head of the UOC Metropolitan of Boryspil and Brovary Antony.

Communication with Exarch is blessed by the clergy in the dioceses of the UOC.

In response to the statement of the UOC, the Ukrainian authorities accused her of provoking sectarian strife. Criticizing the decisions of the Synod, addressed the Ukrainian Ministry of culture. Ukrainian authorities reported joint positions of the Vatican, the Holy see’s Embassy to Ukraine denied the statement of the Ukrainian foreign Ministry. Supports the idea of autocephaly of the UOC , the US state Department.

What’s next

Patriarch Bartholomew declared the immutability of his course on autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church and added that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been steadily moving towards fulfilling its mission, “based on the Holy canons”.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is still ready to dialogue with the Church of Constantinople, despite its anticanonicity action.

“The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church broke off relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and stopped them. This is a significant difference. Thus, the Church shows, on the one hand, their fundamental disagreement with non-canonical actions of Constantinople, and on the other hand, still retains the possibility for dialogue, has shown a willingness to resolve this issue”, – said the Manager of the Affairs of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Antonii of Boryspil and Brovary.

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