Ecumenical Patriarchate: Holy Synod to grant Ukrainian Church autocephaly

The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will grant the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autocephaly (independence), Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said in an address on the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor (man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians).

“This great responsibility of the mother church, the holy and great Church of Christ, surely has no borders. And so, just as we grant autocephaly to all local churches, the Holy Synod has decided to grant autocephaly to the long-suffering Orthodox Church in Ukraine, so that it can accede to the fullness of orthodoxy in unity and inner peace. Only the first throne of orthodoxy, the Constantinople Church, has this great responsibility according to the Holy Canons,” the address states. The message was published on the website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate explained their mission in the process of granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church its autocephaly.

“We are getting involved because it is our duty – exclusively on the basis of reliable church, world and exclusively from national criteria – for the sake of the truth and traditions of the church, the protection of the canonical order and identity of orthodoxy, always to build up the body of Christ, and not for ourselves and not to show to the forces or authorities of the world,” the address continues.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said that if the First Throne of Orthodoxy were to remain indifferent about this matter, “we would remain without justification before God and history”.

As reported by Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry on its Facebook page, in 2018 for the first time, embassies and communities are holding a daily campaign named “Light a Candle in Remembrance”.  The campaign began on September 1, and has already been joined by thousands of people from more than 60 countries. The campaign will conclude on November 24 in Kyiv on the memorial day of the Holodomor victims.

On November 13, the Ukrainian press reported that President Petro Poroshenko was scheduled to meet with the episcopacy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) at the “Ukrainian House” convention center in Kyiv. On the same day, the episcopacy held an extraordinary synod session in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra which ruled that there would be mandatory assembly for all archbishops.

The meeting with the UOC MP archbishops took place, but only with those who “are approving of the idea of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who support the creation of such a church, and who plan to go together to the assembly and to create this church”.

This was reported by Rostyslav Pavlenko, director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies and adviser to the Ukrainian President on ecclesiastical matters, in a broadcast of the Pryamiy TV channel.

“They spoke about the crazy pressure being put on them. At their request, I won’t disclose their names now, but I think that quite soon it will be known, because after all negotiations have been held, and when the church archbishops find a common stance for themselves, a date and location of the assembly will be announced, and it will be held,” Pavlenko said.

  Ukraine, Ecumenical Patriarchate, Ukrainian autocephaly