Orthodox Church of Ukraine

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Orthodox Church of Ukraine
Православна церква України
80-391-9007 Kyiv DSC 5895.jpg
Founded15 December 2018
Independence5 January 2019 (autocephaly officially granted by a tomos)[1][2][3]
RecognitionRecognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
PrimateEpiphanius I
HeadquartersSt. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, Kiev[a][5][6]
TerritoryUkraine
LanguageUkrainian, Church Slavonic[7]
LiturgyByzantine Rite
Parishes7,000 approx.[8][9]
Websitehttp://www.pomisna.info [10]

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Православна церква України, translit. Pravoslavna tserkva Ukrayiny)[11][12] (OCU), or Ukrainian Orthodox Church, also officially known as the Most Holy Church of Ukraine is a partially recognized autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church whose canonical territory is Ukraine.

The church was established by a unification council on 15 December 2018, and received its tomos of autocephaly (decree of ecclesial independence) on 5 January 2019. The council voted to unite the existing Ukrainian Orthodox jurisdictions: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP), the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) 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 as its primate, previously the Metropolitan of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi and Bila Tserkva (UOC-KP).

The other Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), a semi-autonomous branch of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church, which considers the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to be schismatic.

According to the charter adopted by the OCU at the same unification council, Orthodox Ukrainians of the diaspora are subject to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.[13][14][15][16][17] The tomos of autocephaly of the OCU also states the diaspora is to be subjected to the Ecumenical Patriarchate; this might see the transfer of parishes from the now dissolved Kiev Patriarchate to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.[18][19][20]

Name[edit]

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 gives the name of the OCU the "Most Holy Church of Ukraine".[20]

History[edit]

Unification council[edit]

On 15 December 2018, members of the existing Ukrainian Orthodox churches (the UOC-KP, the UAOC and parts of the UOC-MP) voted through their representatives (bishops) to unite into the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on the basis of complete canonical independence. They elected their primate and adopted a charter for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.[13][14][15]

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 considered as Filaret's right arm[24] and protégé,[25] was elected Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine by the unification council on 15 December 2018 after the second round of voting.[26][27]

In his speech after the election, Metropolitan Epiphanius thanked President Poroshenko, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Makariy, the Ukrainian Parliament, as well as Filaret. On Filaret, Epiphanius said: "I want to express my gratitude to His Holiness, His Holiness Patriarch Filaret, who is our spiritual mentor and will continue to be honored, helping us, for a lifetime, to jointly build our Single Local Orthodox Church. Thank you, Your Holiness."[28] Epiphanius added the doors of his church were "open to everyone".[29][28]

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").[30][31]

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 a Divine Liturgy with the Ecumenical Patriarch and receive the Orthodox Church of Ukraine's tomos on 6 January 2019.[32][33][34]

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

It was planned that the newly elected head of the united Ukrainian Orthodox church would go to Istanbul, accompanied by President Poroshenko,[35][36] to receive the church tomos and concelebrate a Divine Liturgy with the Ecumenical Patriarch.[37] Poroshenko also confirmed his plan to go to Istanbul with the now elected primate of the autocephalous Ukrainian church, on 6 January, to be present when said primate will receive the church's tomos.[38]

After the council, Filaret became the "honorary patriarch" of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and will serve in the St Volodymyr's Cathedral.[39][40][41][42] On 16 December 2018, Filaret held a Divine Liturgy in which he came wearing the headgear of a patriarch.[43][44] 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".[45] 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".[46][47]

Metropolitan Epiphanius stated on 21 December that the church had about 7 thousand parishes.[9]

Advertisements to promote a united Ukrainian Orthodox church had been made months prior to the unification council.[48] Petro Poroshenko declared "not a dime" from the Ukrainian State had been paid for them, that he paid those advertisements with his own money.[49] Poroshenko refused to state how much had been spent.[50]

Granting of the tomos of autocephaly[edit]

Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos, with Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kiev (with a white klobuk) behind him
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (left) handing the tomos of autocephaly 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 "has come into force from the moment of its signing."[51][52] The signing of the tomos officially established the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.[53]

After the tomos was signed, Patriarch Batholomew made a speech to Metropolitan Epiphanius.[54] President Poroshenko[55] and Metropolitan Epiphanius also made speeches. In his speech, Epiphanius declared about Poroshenko: "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"[56]

On 6 January 2019, after a Divine Liturgy concelebrated by Metropolitan Epiphanius and Patriarch Bartholomew, Partriarch Bartholomew read the tomos of the OCU and then gave it to Metropolitan Epiphanius.[52][57] President Poroshenko was present during the signing and handing over of the tomos.[58][59][60]

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.[61][62][61][63]

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.[64] The tomos was signed by all members of the synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 9 January 2018.[65][66][67][68] 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."[67] Former press secretary of the UOC-KP, Eustratius (Zorya) (uk), declared the Ecumenical Patriarch recognized the OCU by signing the tomos of autocephaly and by concelebrating the liturgy with Epiphanius while considering Epiphanius as primate of the OCU.[69][64] The Ecumenical Patriarchate declared on 8 January 2018 that the tomos was "approved and valid" and that the signing by the whole synod was a "purely technical step" and that "the validity of the tomos as an act of granting autocephaly is not in any way affected". It added that Ukraine had asked for the tomos to be brought to Ukraine for Christmas instead of leaving it in Istanbul for a few days until the whole synod signed it.[64]

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.[70][71][72][73]

The tomos was made on a parchment by a famous painter and calligrapher of Mount Athos, hieromonk Lucas from the monastery of Xenophontos.[74]

"Tomos tour"[edit]

President Poroshenko started with Filaret a "tomos tour" on 10 January, after the tomos was brought back to Ukraine. Poroshenko will go to 17 regions of Ukraine to present the tomos.[75][76] On 13 January, Poroshenko was in Vinnitsia.[77] On January 15 he was in Lutsk.[78]

Enthronement of the very first primate[edit]

It is believed that Epiphanius will be enthroned on 3 February 2019, which is also the date of Epiphanius' birthday.[79]

Statute of Metropolis[edit]

In an interview with Ukrainian "Direct" TV channel (uk) 29 December 2018,[40][41][42] concerning the fact he was not a patriarch, Metropolitan Epiphanius declared:

There is no definite restriction here. Of course, at the first stage of the formation of our independent Church, we will have a metropolitan status. This is also a definite condition through which all other Local Orthodox Churches passed. Nearly none of the Local Churches received patriarchal status at once. This status is probably out of date. For this status, perhaps, now is not the time. But when we become a big, strong, unified church in Ukraine, it will be a matter of time. But now we have to go through the stage of formation, recognition of our autocephalous status by other Local Orthodox Churches. And in the long run, the Lord will admit that we, as the only local Orthodox Church, will receive and increase in status.[42][80][81]

The tomos of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine states the church cannot change the title of its primate ("Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine") without the permission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.[82]

After the signing of the tomos of autocephaly, Honorary Patriarch of the OCU, Filaret, declared in January 2019 in an interview:[83][84]

Thus far we have been recognized as a metropolitan archdiocese, we agree with this. Even though we have been a patriarchate for 25 years, now we have agreed that we are a metropolitan archdiocese, but a metropolitan archdiocese for the entire Orthodox Christian world… Why do we aspire to become a patriarchate? Because we are a large Church. We have a hope that with the course of time the Ukrainian Church will be recognized as a patriarchate as well. We believed that we would get an autocephalous status. Now we believe that we will be recognized as a patriarchate. This is the future but it will definitely come.

On 9 January 2019, Daniel of Pamphilon, who had been sent as an exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine prior, declared that once the members of the UOC-KP, the UAOC, and the UOC-MP were united, the Ecumenical Patriarchate would consider revising its tomos and turn the OCU into a patriarchate.[85][86]

Reactions[edit]

Politics[edit]

Ukraine[edit]

During various official speeches, Poroshenko stressed the importance of Ukraine receiving its tomos of autocephaly which Ukraine "deserved",[87] is the equivalent of "a charter of [Ukraine's] spiritual independence",[88] was comparable to a referendum on Ukraine's independence[89] and would be "another pillar of Ukrainian independence".[90] 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!""[89]

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".[24][91][92] He added autocephaly was "part of our state pro-European and pro-Ukrainian strategy".[91]

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"[93]

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 Kyiv where the tomos of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was shown to the public.[94]

Russia[edit]

On 17 December 2018, it was reported 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. Thoses groups are present in each diocoese of the UOC-MP and are composed of a lawyer and several sporty men.[95][96] On 20 December, Russian President Putin condemned the creation of the OCU.[97][98]

Canada[edit]

On 8 January 2019, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland congratulated the OCU for receiving its tomos of autocephaly.[99]

United States of America[edit]

On 15 December, the U.S. embassy in Kiev congratulated, via Twitter, Ukraine for having elected the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.[100] On 17 December, the U.S. Department of State officially congratulated Metropolitan Epiphanius I for his election.[101]

On 10 January 2019, the US State Department headed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement:

"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."[102]

Reactions from Eastern Orthodox churches[edit]

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.[103] On 15 December, the UOC-MP declared it did not recognize the OCU.[104] On 17 December, the synod of the UOC-MP elected a new Metropolitan of Vinnitsa and Bar to replace Metropolitan Simeon,[105][106] declared the OCU schismatic[107] and banned from religious service Metropolitans Simeon and Alexander.[107][108][109][110] The UOC-MP also declared "the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [of the Moscow Patriarchate] still remains the true Church of Christ in Ukraine".[111][110]

UOC-MP members joining the OCU[edit]
Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral in Vinnitsa, a seat of Metropolitan Simeon
Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral in Kiev, a seat of Metropolitan Alexander

Following the formation of the OCU, some communities of the UOC-MP joined the OCU (uk). On 16 December 2018, the cathedral of Metropolitan Simeon joined the OCU.[112][113] Simeon was one of the bishops of the UOC-MP who had taken part in the unification council. On 17 December, the parish of the village of Shishkivtsi, composed of 100 people and their priest, joined the OCU.[114] Also on 17 December 2018, it was reported 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. These groups are present in each diocese of the UOC-MP and are composed of a lawyer and several sporty men.[95][96] On 19 December, the cathedral of bishop Alexander Drabinko joined the OCU. Alexander was one of the bishops of the UOC-MP who had taken part in the unification council.[115][116] On the same day, three parishes of Vinnytsia joined the OCU.[117] On 21 December, a parish of a Transcarpatian village joined the OCU.[118][119] On 22 December, the largest UOC-MP parish of the Lviv oblast, the parish of Zhovkva, joined the OCU.[120][121] On the same day, the parish of Trybukhivtsi in the Buchach region joined the OCU.[122] On 23 December, the Temple of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Afflicted, located in the Vinnytsia Regional Psychobiological Dispensary, joined the OCU.[123] On 24 December, it was reported that the three parishes in the Lviv oblast of the villages of Peschany, Verchany (Stryi district), and Ugniv (Sokal district) joined the OCU.[124] On 25 December, the parish of the village of Dobrogorshcha in Khmelnytskyi joined the OCU.[125] This church later received threats from the UOC-MP.[126] On 26 December, it was reported that six other parishes of Vinnytsia had joined the OCU.[127] On the same day, a UOC-MP community of Ternopil joined the OCU. It was the first time an UOC-MP community from Ternopil joined the OCU.[128] As of 26 December 2018, according to the OCU, more that 20 communities in Vinnytsia had joined the OCU.[129][130] Also on 26 December, an interactive map to document all the highlighted cases in which communities went from the UOC-MP to the OCU was published by the Religious Information Service of Ukraine.[131] On 27 December, a parish of Khmelnytskyi joined the OCU,[132] as well as one parish in Vinnytsia.[133] Also on 27 December, Metropolitan Sofroni of Cherkasy and Kaniv declared in an interview that he had left the UOC-MP, but that he would not join the OCU as he considered the charter of the OCU did not grant enough independence to the OCU.[134][135]

Russian Orthodox Church[edit]

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.[136] 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 recognize the OCU and that "there was no unification. The schismatics were and still are outside the Church."[137] 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 recognize the OCU.[138]

Ecumenical Patriarchate[edit]

On 24 December 2018,[139][140] the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent a letter to the primates of the autocephalous Orthodox churches to ask them to recognize the OCU.[141][142]

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.[143] 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 dyptich.[144][145]

Church of Greece[edit]

On 8 January 2019, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece declared the question of the recognition of the OCU would be dealt by the Synod of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece.[146][147][139]

Polish Orthodox Church[edit]

On 8 January 2019, Metropolitan Sawa, primate of the Polish Orthodox Church, declared Epiphanius, primate of the OCU, was a layperson and not member of the clergy. He added the grant of autocephaly to the OCU was a violation of the canon law.[148][149]

Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch[edit]

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.[140]

Church of Cyprus[edit]

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 dyptich of the Divine Liturgy.[150][151]

Other Orthodox churches[edit]

According to Orthodoxia.info, the Orthodox churches of Jerusalem, Romania and Albania will recognize the OCU.[152]

The churches of Antioch, Serbia, Poland and of the Czech Lands and Slovakia will likely not recognize the OCU.[152]

The future positions of the churches of Alexandria, Bulgaria, Cyprus and of Greece are difficult to foresee.[152]

Reactions from outside of Eastern Orthodoxy[edit]

Catholic churches[edit]

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.[153]

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".[154][155] 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".[156][157][158]

Protestantism[edit]

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".[159]

Judaism[edit]

Rabbi Oleksandr, head of the Religious Association of Progressive Judaism Communities of Ukraine[160] congratulated Orthodox Ukrainians for the receiving of the tomos of autocephaly.[161]

Islam[edit]

Said Ismagilov sent a congratulory message to Epiphanius after the latter's eletcion.[162] On 6 January 2019, Said congratulated the Orthodox Christians for the receiving of the tomos by Ukraine.[163]

Notes[edit]

  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. Therefore, St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery is used as the headquarters of the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Butler, Daren; Usta, Bulent (6 January 2019). "Ukraine's Orthodox Church now independent". The Australian. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  3. ^ Feldschreiber, Jared (6 January 2019). "Ecumenical Patriarch officially grants independence to Ukrainian Orthodox Church". Kiev Post. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  4. ^ UATV English. "Tomos Ceremony" – via YouTube.
  5. ^ "Факти ICTV - Михайлівський Золотоверхий стане кафедральним собором єдиної УПЦ". 16 December 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
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  9. ^ a b (in Ukrainian) In the CPC, the number of parishes and commented on the seizure of temples, Ukrayinska Pravda (21 December 2018)
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  11. ^ Σύνταξης, Αίθουσα (2018-12-15). "Ανακηρύχθηκε η αυτοκέφαλη Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία της Ουκρανίας". Tribune.gr (in Greek). Retrieved 2018-12-16.
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External links[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • Denysenko, Nicholas, The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: A Century of Separation, Northern Illinois University Press, 2018