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The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Православна церква України, romanizedPravoslavna tserkva Ukrayiny)[12][13] (OCU), or Ukrainian Orthodox Church, also known as the Most Holy Church of Ukraine, is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church whose canonical territory is Ukraine.[14]


Orthodox Church of Ukraine
Православна церква України
80-391-9007 Kyiv DSC 5895.jpg
AbbreviationOCU
PrimateEpiphanius I
Parishes7,000 approx.[1][2]
LanguageUkrainian, Church Slavonic[3]
LiturgyByzantine Rite
HeadquartersSt. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, Kiev[a][5][6]
TerritoryUkraine
FounderUnification council of the Orthodox churches of Ukraine
Origin15 December 2018
Kiev
Independence5 January 2019 (autocephaly officially granted by a tomos)[7][8][9]
RecognitionAutocephaly recognized by Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and
Church of Greece as of October 2019
Merger ofUkrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate (part of which left the OCU on 20 June 2019),
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,
Metropolitans Symeon Shostatsky and Oleksandr Drabynko [uk] of the UOC-MP
SeparationsParts of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate on 20 June 2019 (see Conflict between Filaret and Epiphanius)
Members43.9% of the Ukrainian Orthodox population (January 2019, study by SOCIS)[10]
Other name(s)Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Most Holy Church of Ukraine
Official websitewww.pomisna.info[11]
  1. ^ The headquarters are in the Saint Sophia's Cathedral of Kiev, but since it is a historical monument of Ukraine, masses there are very rare. Accordingly, St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery is used as the headquarters of the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine[4]

A unification council established the church on 15 December 2018; the new body received its tomos of autocephaly (decree of ecclesial independence) on 5 January 2019. The council voted to unite the all of the existing Ukrainian Orthodox jurisdictions: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP), the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC), all ecclesiastical institutions and monasteries from the Ukraine, and a part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). The primate of the church is the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine. The unification council elected Epiphanius Dumenko – previously the Metropolitan of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi and Bila Tserkva (UOC-KP) – as its primate.

The other Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine involves the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), an autonomous branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, which regards the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as schismatic, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate.

According to the Statute of the OCU adopted at the 2018 unification council, "Orthodox Christians of Ukrainian provenance" shall be forthwith subject to the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Article 4 of the Statute).[15][16] This provision is also enshrined in the OCU's tomos of autocephaly.[17][18][19] In March 2019 Metropolitan Epiphanius said that the transfer of parishes of the dissolved Kiev Patriarchate to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate had already begun.[20]

On 20 June 2019, a number of OCU members—including Filaret—left the OCU after a local council of the UOC-KP convened by Filaret which reestablished the UOC-KP.

NameEdit

The official name of the united Ukrainian church is the "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" ("Ukrainian Orthodox Church" is allowed) and the name of its primate is "His Beatitude (name), Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine".[21][22][23] The Tomos of autocephaly of the OCU refers to the OCU as the "Most Holy Church of Ukraine".[19]

On 30 January 2019, the OCU was legally registered under the name "Kievan Metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine)" (Ukrainian: Київська Митрополія Української Православної Церкви (Православної Церкви України)).[24] The head of the Ukrainian Department of Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Culture, Andriy Yurash, clarified: "These two terms [the UOC and the OCU] will be used as synonymous and this is expressly agreed with the Phanar. Therefore, the use of the terms, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, is affixed precisely to the administrative unit that is called the Kievan Metropolitanate".[25]

HistoryEdit

Unification councilEdit

Following months of negotiations and preparations, on 15 December 2018, all the bishops of the UOC-KP and the UAOC as well as two metropolitans of the UOC-MP convened in Kiev's Saint Sophia Cathedral, presided over by the Metropolitan of the Ecumenical throne, Emmanuel (Adamakis) [fr], to merge into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, elect their primate and adopt the statute of the newly independent Church of Ukraine.[15][16]

 
Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kiev and all Ukraine

Metropolitan Epiphanius of the UOC-KP, who had been chosen on 13 December by the UOC-KP as its only candidate, and was believed to be Filaret's right arm[26] and protégé,[27] was elected Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine by the unification council by the second round of voting.[28][29]

In his speech upon the election, Metropolitan Epiphanius thanked President Poroshenko, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Makariy, the Ukrainian Parliament, as well as Filaret.[30] Epiphanius said that the doors of his church were "open to everyone".[30][31]

Epiphanius later made clear that no weighty decision would be taken by his church as long as he had not received the church's formal ecclesiastical decree (or "tomos").[32][33]

The Ecumenical Patriarch congratulated and blessed the newly elected Metropolitan on the day of his election and said the newly elected primate was invited to come to Istanbul to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with the Ecumenical Patriarch and receive the Orthodox Church of Ukraine's tomos on 6 January 2019.[34][35][36]

 
Metropolitan Epiphanius and Ukrainian President Poroshenko shaking hands after the unification council

After the council, Filaret became the "honorary patriarch" of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, serving in the St Volodymyr's Cathedral.[37][38][39][40] On 16 December 2018, Filaret held a Divine Liturgy in which he came wearing the headgear of a patriarch.[41][42] During this Filaret declared in his sermon, that he was still patriarch: "The Patriarch remains for life and, together with the Primate, governs the Ukrainian Orthodox Church".[43] After the Divine Liturgy, he was acclaimed by the hierarchs of the church as "great vladyka and father Filaret, the holiest patriarch of Kiev and all Ukraine-Rus and sacred archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra".[44][45]

Metropolitan Epiphanius said on 21 December that the church had about 7 thousand parishes.[2]

Advertisements to promote a united Ukrainian Orthodox church had been made months prior to the unification council.[46] Petro Poroshenko declared "not a dime" from the Ukrainian State had been paid for them, that he paid those advertisements with his own money.[47] Poroshenko refused to state how much had been spent.[48]

Granting of the Tomos of autocephalyEdit

 
Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos. Epiphanius I of Ukraine (wearing a white klobuk) stands behind him.
 
Patriarch Bartholomew (left) handing the tomos to Metropolitan Epiphanius (right)

On 5 January 2019, Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Epiphanius celebrated a Divine Liturgy in St. George's Cathedral in Istanbul. The Tomos was signed thereafter, also in St. George's Cathedral. The Tomos "had come into force from the moment of its signing."[49][50] The signing of the tomos officially established the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.[51]

After the Tomos was signed, Patriarch Batholomew delivered a speech addressing Metropolitan Epiphanius.[52] President Poroshenko[53] and Metropolitan Epiphanius also delivered speeches, Epiphanius addressing Poroshenko by saying this: "Your name, Mr President, will remain forever in the history of the Ukrainian people and the church next to the names of our princes Volodymyr the Great, Yaroslav the Wise, Kostiantyn Ostrozky and Hetman Ivan Mazepa".[54]

On 6 January 2019, after a Divine Liturgy concelebrated by Metropolitan Epiphanius and Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Bartholomew read out the Tomos of the OCU and then handed it to Metropolitan Epiphanius.[50][55] President Poroshenko was present during the signing and handing over of the Tomos.[56][57][58]

On 7 January 2019, Metropolitan Epiphanius celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Saint Sophia's Cathedral, where the Tomos of autocephaly was exposed during the liturgy. The Tomos was then put on display in the refectory church of Saint Sophia's Cathedral in perpetuity, and exposed for the public and tourists to view daily.[59][59][60][61]

On 8 January 2019, the Tomos was brought back to Istanbul so that all the members of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate could sign the tomos.[62] The representative of the press service of the OCU, priest Ivan Sydor, said the Tomos was valid after the signature of the Ecumenical Patriarch, "but according to the procedure, there must also be the signatures of those bishops who take part in the synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate."[63] Former press secretary of the UOC-KP, Eustratius (Zorya) (uk), declared the Ecumenical Patriarch recognised the OCU by signing the tomos of autocephaly and by concelebrating the liturgy with Epiphanius I while considering Epiphanius as primate of the OCU.[62][64] The Tomos was signed by all members of the synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 9 January 2018.[63][65][66][67] The tomos, signed by all members of the synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was brought back to Ukraine on the morning of 10 January 2019.[68][69][70][71]

The Tomos was manufactured on a parchment by the renowned painter and calligrapher of Mount Athos, hieromonk Lucas from the Xenophontos monastery.[72]

President Poroshenko, accompanied by Metroplitan Epiphanius, visited several regions of Ukraine to present the Tomos.[73][74]

The Ukrainian Minister of education said that in 2019 the tomos of autocephaly would be included in the history manuals of the 11th grade students.[75][76]

Enthronement of the Primate and first synodEdit

It was planned that Epiphanius would be enthroned on 3 February 2019, which is also the date of his 40th birthday.[77][78][79] Thereafter, the first synod of the OCU was to take place.[80][81] The monasteries of Mount Athos refused to send a delegation for the enthronement ceremony "not because the Fathers do not recognise its legitimacy or canonicity, but because they have chosen to stick with what has become official practice and accept invitations only to the enthronement of their ecclesiastical head, the Ecumenical Patriarch."[82] Two abbots of Mount Athos were planned to come at the enthronement but were to be part of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.[83] On 1 February, once in Kiev, Archimandrite Ephrem, one of the two Athonite abbots, was hospitalised for a heart attack.[84] On 2 February, Archimandrite Ephrem was visited by Metropolitan Epiphanius.[85][86]

As planned, Epiphanius was enthroned on 3 February 2019, in St. Sophia's Cathedral, Kiev.[87] Filaret was not present due to health conditions, so he sent his written congratulations to the primate Epiphanius, Filaret's congratulations were written by him and read at the end of the liturgy.[88][89] Archimandrite Ephrem, who had been hospitalised on 1 February 2019,[84] was not present at the ceremony of enthronement,[90][91] but a hieromonk of Ephrem's monastery was present during the ceremony of enthronement. A monk from a skete of the Koutloumousiou Monastery was also present during the ceremony of enthronement.[92]

The first meeting of the Holy Synod of the OCU was held on 5 February 2019.[93][94][95]

Initial public statements by the PrimateEdit

In an interview published on 13 February 2019, Epiphanius said what were the main task the OCU had to fulfill:[96]

First, to preserve the unity that was proclaimed in the unifying Council. Secondly, pay special attention to formation, which is our future. The third commitment is with the young, which we must know how to attract them [sic] to the Church. Without spiritual formation, in general without development of formation we will not be able to do anything

On 16 February 2019, the primate of the OCU, Epiphanius, said the OCU would implement reforms "normally and gradually" He gave the example of switching to the Orthodox new calendar.[97] Before that, on 16 December 2018, he had also talked about switching to the Orthodox new calendar.[98]

In an interview published on 1 March 2019, Epiphanius told the BBC:[99][100]

We must move away from those Russian imperial traditions that have been imposed on us for a long time. When we visit the churches of the Greek tradition, we see that all those traditions existed in the Ukrainian Church even during the time of Peter Mogila [...] But everything will be done gradually, so as not to cause resistance from the conservative part of the faithful who do not perceive reforms as such. We are not talking about changing the foundations of faith, dogmatics. We are talking about good reforms. We must engage in enlightenment, explain to people that we must become better, so that love would prevail among us.

In the same interview, when asked if he would allow LGBT to take communion, Epiphanius declared: "We have a clear position [...] this is a sin that we have to [...] speak openly about [...]. This is a way of life that is incompatible with Christian views. Therefore, this is the position of the Orthodox Church, the position of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches, and in this matter we are unshakable. Because we are based on the foundations of the Scriptures, which clearly states that this is a sin. [...] people must repent of their sins, correct their mistakes. And if a person repents, if the person recognises it, then of course the person can participate in the sacraments."[100]

UOC-MP parishes' defection to the OCUEdit

 
Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral in Kiev, a seat of Metropolitan Alexander
 
Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral in Vinnytsia, a seat of Metropolitan Simeon

Following the formation of the OCU, communities (parishes) of the UOC-MP began to switch over to the jurisdiction of the OCU (list [uk]).

On 16 December 2018, the cathedral of Metropolitan Symeon joined the OCU.[101][102] Simeon was one of the bishops of the UOC-MP who had taken part in the unification council.

On 17 December 2018, the statement of the Synodal Department of the military clergy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was quoted by mass media as saying that the Federal Security Service of Russia, along with members of the Moscow Patriarchate, had created mobile groups to prevent communities in Ukraine from switching from the UOC-MP to the OCU, such groups being present in each diocese of the UOC-MP and composed of a lawyer and several brawny men.[103][104]

On 19 December 2018, the cathedral of Metropolitan Oleksandr Drabynko, one of the two UOC-MP bishops who had taken part in the unification council, joined the OCU.[105][106]

On 17 March 2019, TSN reported that more than 500 parishes had switched over to the OCU.[107] Later in March, the primate of the UOC-MP contested the statistics and acknowledged 42 cases of legitimate defections only while attributing scores of others to illicit activity.[108] On 30 March, the UOC-MP acknowledged the transfer of 61 parishes, while the OCU claimed 506 had been transferred.[109][110]

Conflict with FilaretEdit

A conflict erupted between Filaret and Epiphanius because of disagreements concerning the model of governance, the management of the diaspora, the name and the statute of the OCU.

According to Filaret, the agreement reached at the unification council was as follow: "the primate is responsible for the external representation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), and the patriarch is responsible for the internal church life in Ukraine, but in cooperation with the primate. The primate shall do nothing in the church without the consent of the patriarch. The patriarch chairs the meetings of the Holy Synod and the UOC meetings for the sake of preserving unity, its growth, and affirmation." Filaret considers this agreement has not been fulfilled.[111][112]

On 20 June 2019, the Local Council of the UOC-KP convened by Filaret decided to cancel the decisions of the 15 December 2018 unification council.[113][114]

Church administrationEdit

According to the OCU's Statute,[15] the highest governing body of the OCU is the Local Council, which should be regularly convened by the Metropolitan of Kiev and the permanent Synod at least once in five years. The Local Council may elect the Metropolitan of Kiev and amend the Statute acting on proposals submitted by the Council of Bishops.

The permanent Synod of the OCU is to be composed of twelve rotating members and chaired by the Metropolitan of Kiev. For the duration of the transitional period, three permanent members of the Synod have been appointed: the former Primates of the UOC-KP (Filaret) and the UAOC (Makariy), and the former UOC-MP Metropolitan Symeon (Shostatsky).[15]

Legally registered dioceses of the OCUEdit

As of late March 2019, the following diocesan administrations had been registered within the OCU′s jurisdiction:[115]

  1. Vinnytsia-Tulchyn diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  2. Vinnytsia-Bar diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  3. Vinnytsia-Bratslav diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  4. Volodymyr-Volynski diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  5. Dnipropetrovsk diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  6. Donetsk diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  7. Zhytomyr-Ovruch diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  8. Zakarpattia diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  9. Zaporizhia diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  10. Mykolaiv diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  11. Odesa diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  12. Rivne diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  13. Rivne-Volyn diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  14. Kharkiv diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  15. Cherkasy diocese of the UOC (OCU)
  16. Chernihiv diocese of the UOC (OCU)

Reactions from domestic and international state officialsEdit

UkraineEdit

During various official speeches, Poroshenko stressed the importance of Ukraine receiving its tomos of autocephaly which Ukraine "deserved",[116] is the equivalent of "a charter of [Ukraine's] spiritual independence",[117] was comparable to a referendum on Ukraine's independence[118] and would be "another pillar of Ukrainian independence".[119] On the 27th anniversary of the referendum on independence of Ukraine, Poroshenko declared the tomos of autocephaly was the equivalent of Ukraine saying "'Away from Moscow!' – 'Europe now!'"[118]

On 15 December 2018, Poroshenko made a speech after Epiphanius' election, in which he said the autocephalous church would be "without Putin, without Kirill", but "with God and with Ukraine".[26][120][121] He added autocephaly was "part of our state pro-European and pro-Ukrainian strategy".[120]

On 6 January, after the OCU had received its tomos, President Poroshenko declared: "His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew already has a special place in the history of Ukraine. With all that he did, due to his wisdom and leadership, his devotion to Ukraine and Orthodoxy, I would say that His All-Holiness will be considered a co-founder of a new Ukraine. This is a very special and historic mission".[122]

On 7 January 2019, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Ukraine, with the creation of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, has finally severed ties with Russia. He added: "The creation of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine is the pledge of our independence. This is the foundation of our spiritual freedom. We've severed the last ties that connected us with Moscow and its fantasies about Ukraine as the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church. This is not and won't be anymore." He made this declaration at the Christmas liturgy in St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev where the tomos of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was shown to the public.[123]

RussiaEdit

On 17 December 2018, it was reported that the Federal Security Service of Russia, along with members of the Moscow Patriarchate, allegedly had created mobile groups to prevent communities in Ukraine from switching from the UOC-MP to the OCU. Those groups are present in each diocese of the UOC-MP and are composed of a lawyer and several men.[103][104] On 20 December, Russian President Putin condemned the creation of the OCU.[124][125] In interviews published on 16 January 2019 on the official website of the Kremlin, President Putin declared the OCU was "an entirely political, secular project". He added that the creation of the OCU and its official establishment via a tomos "has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking. Likewise, we do not speak about the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is de-facto fully controlled by Istanbul."[126]

CanadaEdit

On 8 January 2019, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland congratulated the OCU for receiving its tomos of autocephaly.[127]

United States of AmericaEdit

On 15 December, the U.S. embassy in Kiev congratulated, via Twitter, Ukraine for having elected the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.[128] On 17 December, the U.S. Department of State officially congratulated Metropolitan Epiphanius on his election.[129]

On 10 January 2019, the U.S. State Department headed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement:[130]

The January 6th announcement of autocephaly for an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine marks a historic achievement as Ukraine seeks to chart its own future. On this momentous occasion, the United States reiterates its unwavering support for a sovereign, independent Ukraine.

The United States maintains its strong support for religious freedom, including the freedom for members of religious groups to govern their religion according to their beliefs, without external interference. We welcome remarks by Metropolitan Epiphaniy that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is open to all Orthodox believers and encourage government and Church officials to promote tolerance and respect for the freedom of members of all religious affiliations to worship as they choose.

SyriaEdit

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was quoted by Dmitry Sablin, member of a delegation of the Russian parliament, as saying: "Attempts to divide believers are one of the most serious challenges not only for you, but also for us. Today we see attempts to divide the church on our soil as well, that is, an attempt to divide the Church of Antioch in Syria and Lebanon." Assad noted in particular that granting independence to the Lebanese Metropolitanate was being discussed and said that "the continuation of that process could follow."[131][132]

Reactions from Eastern Orthodox churchesEdit

Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon [ru], former exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine, said in January 2019 in a BBC Ukraine interview that the first recognition of the OCU by an Orthodox church (apart from the Ecumenical Patriarchate which already recognises it[133]) "will take a month and a half. The current Greek and Romanian Churches will be among the first, and from there the process will move along."[134]

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)Edit

Archbishop Clement (Vecheria), chairman of the Synodal Information and Educational Department of the UOC-MP, declared to the BBC that no sanctions would be applied to Metropolitans Simeon and Alexander as they had "joined a schism" and were now outside of the UOC-MP. The post these metropolitans occupied in the UOC-MP was therefore considered vacant by the UOC-MP.[135] On 15 December, the UOC-MP declared it did not recognise the OCU.[136] On 17 December, the synod of the UOC-MP elected a new Metropolitan of Vinnitsa and Bar to replace Metropolitan Simeon,[137][138] declared the OCU schismatic[139] and banned from religious service Metropolitans Simeon and Alexander.[139][140][141][142] The UOC-MP also declared "the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [of the Moscow Patriarchate] still remains the true Church of Christ in Ukraine".[142][143]

Ecumenical PatriarchateEdit

On 24 December 2018,[144][145] the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent a letter to the primates of the autocephalous Orthodox churches to ask them to recognise the OCU.[146][147]

On Sunday 16 December 2018, the next day after the election of Epiphanius as primate of the OCU, the Ecumenical Patriarch commemorated him during a Divine Liturgy, along with the other primates of the other Orthodox churches.[133] On 8 January 2019, the Ecumenical Patriarch sent a letter to all the hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to ask them to commemorate Epiphanius in the diptych.[148][149] On 23 January 2019, the OCU appeared on one of the official websites of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under the category "autocephalous churches".[150][151]

Church of AntiochEdit

The primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch answered to the 24 December 2018 letter of the Ecumenical Patriarch by asking the Ecumenical Patriarch to postpone the grant of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.[145]

Russian Orthodox ChurchEdit

On 15 December, after the election of Epiphanius at the unification council, archpriest Nikolay Balashov, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax that this election "means nothing" for the Russian Orthodox Church.[152] After the unification council, the Patriarch of Moscow sent a letter to the primates of all the autocephalous local Orthodox churches (but not to the Ecumenical Patriarchate nor to the OCU), urging them not to recognise the OCU and that "there was no unification. The schismatics were and still are outside the Church."[153] On 30 December 2018, the synod of the ROC declared the unification council of the OCU "uncanonical" and appealed to the primates and synods of the other local Orthodox churches not to recognise the OCU.[154]

On 7 October 2019, the ROC officialy released a comments by the Secretariat of the Biblical and Theological Synodal Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church. "The document discusses the problems of apostolic succession among schismatic «hierarchs», the limits of application of the oikonomia principle, issues of the lack of legitimacy of the OCU, the distortion of the role of the first bishop in the Orthodox Church, and explains the suspension of Eucharistic communion."[155][156]

Serbian Orthodox ChurchEdit

On 13 March 2019, the Synod of bishops of the Serbian Church posted a document titled "The Position of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the church crisis in Ukraine",[157] which reiterated the previously published intention not to recognise the legitimacy of the OCU′s hierarchy;[158] the 13 March document also recommended that the Serbian clergy refrain from any communion with those who are in communion with "Mr Epiphanius Dumenko and his followers".[157] The identical document in Russian had been published by the Moscow Patriarchate′s official web site around two weeks prior.[159][160]

Romanian Orthodox ChurchEdit

On 21 February 2019, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church discussed the Ukrainian question[161] and declared in a communiqué:[162]

Regarding this tense ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church reiterates its stance expressed during its previous working sessions of 24 May and 25 October 2018. It was then recommended that, through dialogue, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate identify a solution to this ecclesiastical dispute by preserving the unity of faith, by respecting the administrative and pastoral freedom of the clergy and faithful in this country (including the right to autocephaly), and by restoring Eucharistic communion. In the event of an unsuccessful bilateral dialogue, it is necessary to convene a Synaxis of all Primates of Orthodox Churches to solve the existing problem.

The Romanian Orthodox Church also stated in the same communiqué: that once the schism in Ukraine will have been healed, once the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate will have settled down their dispute over Ukraine, once the Romanian Orthodox Church will have "written assurances from Ukrainian ecclesiastical and state authorities that the ethnic and linguistic identity of [the 127 Romanian Orthodox parishes in Ukraine currently administered by the UOC-MP] will be respected, and that these Romanian Orthodox will have the possibility to organise themselves within a Romanian Orthodox Vicariate and to be able to cultivate spiritual relations with the Romanian Patriarchate", and once the Ecumenical Patriarchate will have clarified "the problem of the non-canonical hierarchs and priests in the West, who belonged to the former 'Kiev Patriarchate'", then "the Holy Synod will express its official position on the situation of Orthodoxy in Ukraine."[163]

In March 2019, Epiphanius declared that he was in favor of creating a Romanian vicariate and that they "will discuss everything".[164]

Church of CyprusEdit

On 9 January 2019, Archbishop Chrysostomos declared: "What's most important right now is not autocephaly, but that Orthodoxy may not be divided". He added he would never commemorate the name of the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the diptych of the Divine Liturgy.[165][166] On 25 January 2019, Archbishop Chrysostomos declared he considered the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the "Mother Church" and that he "maintains good relations with the Phanar, which he will preserve despite any difficulties." He added he would concelebrate one day with Metropolitan Epiphanius once the latter would have come in Cyprus.[167][168][169]

On 7 February 2019, the holy synod of the Church of Cyprus decided that on 18 February 2019 the holy synod of the Church of Cyprus will hold an extraordinary meeting to give its final decision concerning the Ukrainian question.[170] On 18 February, the Church of Cyprus declared it did not doubt the goals of granting autocephaly in Ukraine was to heal the schism in Ukraine; the Church of Cyprus also stated that if the schism in Ukraine was not overcome in a certain amount of time, the Church of Cyprus "expect[s] that the Ecumenical Patriarch, making use of his regulatory role given to him by his position as First in Orthodoxy, will convene either a Pan-Orthodox Council or a Synaxis of the Primates to act upon the matter." In the same communiqué, the Church of Cyprus declared it offered to be a mediator on the issue.[171][172][173][174] The Church of Cyprus did not state it recognised the OCU.[175]

Church of GreeceEdit

On 8 January 2019, the Permanent Synod of the Church of Greece decided that the issue of recognition of the OCU would be dealt with by the Synod of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece.[144][176][177]

In early March 2019, the Permanent Synod discussed the Ukrainian issue and assigned it to two synodical committees for examination and appropriate recommendations.[178] The Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II told the media that the Synod of the Hierarchy would discuss Ukraine at its session to be held on 19–20 March 2019.[179][180] However, the issue of the OCU was not discussed.[181]

On 10 June, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens attended Great Vespers with Metropolitan Epiphany.[182] On 14 July, Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias and Volos visited the Ecumenical Patriarch. He declared that Patriarch Bartholomew had the right to grant Autocephaly to Ukraine, and that the Volos Theological Academy accepts students from OCU academies.[183]

On 28 July, at the 1,031st-anniversary celebration of the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine, Metropolitan Ioannis of Langada represented the Church of Greece and concelebrated with Metropolitan Epiphany.[184][185] Earlier, Archbishop Germanos of Chernivtsi concelebrated with Greek and Constantinopolitan hierarchs in Thessaloniki.[186]

On 28 August, some sources reported that the Church of Greece supports the autocephaly of the OCU.[187] On 28 August 2019, the Standing Holy Synod of the Church of Greece stated that the Ecumenical Patriarch had the right to grant autocephaly, and that the primate of the Church of Greece had the "privilege" to "to further deal with the question of recognition of the Church of Ukraine".[188][189] While the Holy Synod has not formally recognized the OCU's autocephaly, Epiphanius argues that the OCU has an honorary recognition.[190][191]

On 7 October 2019,[192][193][194] "a day before the start of the proceedings of the Synod of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, [the Archbishop of Athene] informed in a letter the Body of Hierarchs that he would add another extraordinary meeting this coming Saturday regarding exclusively the Ukrainian issue."[195][196] This meeting was scheduled for 12 October 2019.[192][193][197]

On 12 October 2019, the Orthodox Church of Greece recognized the Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, stating that "the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has the right to granting autocephalies"[198][199][200] During the debate preceding the recognition, more than 35 Metropolitans of the Church of Greece declared they had been pressured by the ROC but did not comply.[201] Epiphanius thanked the Church of Greece as well as its primate for this decision.[202][203]

Polish Orthodox ChurchEdit

On 8 January 2019, Metropolitan Sawa, primate of the Polish Orthodox Church, declared that Epiphanius was a layperson and not member of the clergy. He added that the grant of autocephaly to the OCU was a violation of the canon law.[204][205]

Patriarchate of AlexandriaEdit

On September 11–12, 2019, in the village of Ossa near Thessaloniki, the Vigil and Divine Liturgy were celebrated at the temple. In addition to the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Hellenic Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Bishop Volodymyr (Shlapak)), the hierarch of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria (Bishop of Mozambique Chrysostom) participated in the liturgy. This Divine Liturgy is of great importance, since the participation of the Bishop of South Africa attests to the Eucharistic unity and, consequently, the actual recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by another Local Church - the Patriarchate of Alexandria and all of Africa.[206][207][208]

Reactions from religious bodies outside of Eastern OrthodoxyEdit

Catholic ChurchEdit

The head of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops of Ukraine congratulated Epiphanius on his election in the name of the Roman Catholic bishops of Ukraine.[209]

Major Archbishop Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) congratulated the Orthodox Ukrainians on the formation of the OCU and said it was a "historic moment for Christians in Ukraine".[210][211] On 18 December, Shevchuck sent a letter of congratulation, in the name of the UGCC and in his own name, to Metropolitan Epiphanius and said the election of Epiphanius was "God's gift on the way to the complete unity of the churches of Volodymyr's Baptism".[212][213][214]

ProtestantismEdit

Concerning the formation of the OCU, the Seventh-day Adventist Church "takes a positive stance towards all the movements and activities that have served the unification of people, the search for ways of peaceful coexistence and understanding".[215]

JudaismEdit

Rabbi Oleksandr, head of the Religious Association of Progressive Judaism Communities of Ukraine,[216] congratulated Orthodox Ukrainians for the receiving of the tomos of autocephaly.[217]

IslamEdit

Said Ismagilov, Mufti of the Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine sent a congratulatory message to Epiphanius after the latter's election.[218] On 6 January 2019, Said congratulated the Orthodox Christians for the receiving of the tomos by Ukraine.[219]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit