Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The spiritual mentor Filaret Denisenko hopes for the help of the Ukrainian authorities concerning the “unification of all Orthodoxy” into a “new church”.
“If we are united, not divided, and we will unite all Orthodoxy, then we cannot do it without the aid of the state. But also the state can’t do anything without us. The state is as interested in the orthodox church as the church itself is. Because without a united church there will be no Ukrainian state, and without a state there will be no Ukrainian church, therefore we have to fight together for the unification of all Ukrainian Orthodoxy”said Filaret on December 28th during a speech at a pre-Christmas prayer in the Svyato-Uspensky temple of the village of Mirnoye in the Belyaevsky district of the Odessa region
According to him, the “new church“ won’t force parishioners of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church to switch to it, but Ukrainians must switch to the “new church” sooner or later.
“If someone, living in Ukraine, wants to go to the Russian church, then let them go, and whoever, being a Ukrainian, doesn’t want to go to the Russian church, then sooner or later they must come and join the Ukrainian church. This is how we will proceed and we will achieve it so that in Ukraine there will be one church. There is no other way for Ukraine”he said
The law adopted by the Ukrainian parliament that can deprive the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its name came into force on December 27th. According to the document, the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church will have 4 months to change its name and to make the corresponding changes to its charter. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate – ed] declared that it intends to appeal to the Constitutional Court in connection with the adoption of this document.
A “unifying sobor” took place in Kiev on December 15th at the initiative of the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, which representatives of non-canonical church structures mainly participated in. Only two bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church turned up, and subsequently the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate – ed] banned them from the clergy. The election of Epifany Dumenko as the head of the new “autocephalous church” was the result of the event in Kiev. The Russian Orthodox Church said that the canonical value of the “sobor” in Kiev was insignificant, and that the possibility of recognising Epifany is hardly a feasible task. At the same time, the authorities of Ukraine expect to receive Tomos of Autocephaly for the newly created structure from the Constantinople Patriarchate at the beginning of January.
Because of the decision of Constantinople to begin granting autocephaly to a non-canonical Church in Ukraine, which the ROC called a schism, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church declared on October 15th the cutting of ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate across the entire canonical territory of the ROC, including Ukraine and Belarus. The synod of the ROC said that the cancellation by Constantinople of the act of 1686 on the transfer of the Kiev metropolitanate to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate is canonically insignificant and politically motivated. The head of the department of external church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, declared that Constantinople lost the right to be called the coordinating center of Orthodoxy. The ROC hopes that Constantinople will change its decision to give autocephaly to the Ukrainian church, and until then it will be in a schism.
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