Orthodox Church of Ukraine

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Orthodox Church of Ukraine
Православна церква України
80-391-9007 Kyiv DSC 5895.jpg
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]
RecognitionRecognized only by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Merger ofUkrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate,
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,
Metropolitans Symeon Shostatsky and Oleksandr Drabynko [uk] of the UOC-MP
Members43.9% of the Ukrainian population (January 2019, study by SOCIS)[10]
Other name(s)Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Most Holy Church of Ukraine
Official websitehttp://www.pomisna.info [11]

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Православна церква України, translit. Pravoslavna tserkva Ukrayiny)[12][13] (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), an autonomous branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, which considers the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to be schismatic.

According to the Charter 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 Charter).[14][15][16][17][18] This provision is also enshrined in the OCU′s Tomos of autocephaly.[19][20][21] In March 2019, Metroplitan Epiphanius said that the transition of parishes of the dissolved Kiev Patriarchate to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate had already begun.[22]

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".[23][24][25] The tomos of autocephaly of the OCU gives the name of the OCU as the "Most Holy Church of Ukraine".[21]

In an interview on 20 January 2019, Honorary Patriarch Filaret of the OCU declared the proper name for the OCU is the "Ukrainian Orthodox Church" and that "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" was the wrong name of the church, explaining: "We do not say 'Orthodox Church of Russia' or 'Orthodox Church of Bulgaria'. It needs to be fixed."[26] Honorary Patriarch Filaret, told members of the media department of the dissolved UOC-KP that they had to "eradicate" the name "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" because "'The Orthodox Church in Ukraine' means that this is not the ruling Church, but only one of the Churches in Ukraine ... And we are the ruling Church in Ukraine." This discussion between Filaret and the members was recorded and the pro-Moscow anonymous Union of Orthodox Journalists[27] shared the recording on its website on 23 January 2019.[28][29][30]

On 30 January 2019, the OCU was officially registered,[31] under the name "Kievan Metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine)" (Ukrainian: Київська Митрополія Української Православної Церкви (Православної Церкви України)).[32][33] The head of the Ukrainian Department of Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Culture, Andriy Yurash, declared: "These two terms [the UOC and the OCU] will be used as synonymous and it is agreed with the Phanar directly. Therefore, the use of the expressions of Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Orthodox Church of Ukraine is included exactly in the administrative unit, which is called the Kievan Metropolitanate".[34]

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.[14][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 considered as Filaret's right arm[35] and protégé,[36] was elected Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine by the unification council on 15 December 2018 after the second round of voting.[37][38]

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."[39] Epiphanius added the doors of his church were "open to everyone".[40][39]

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").[41][42]

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.[43][44][45]

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,[46][47] to receive the church tomos and concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with the Ecumenical Patriarch.[48] 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.[49]

After the council, Filaret became the "honorary patriarch" of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, serving in the St Volodymyr's Cathedral.[50][51][52][53] On 16 December 2018, Filaret held a Divine Liturgy in which he came wearing the headgear of a patriarch.[54][55] 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".[56] 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".[57][58]

Metropolitan Epiphanius stated 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.[59] Petro Poroshenko declared "not a dime" from the Ukrainian State had been paid for them, that he paid those advertisements with his own money.[60] Poroshenko refused to state how much had been spent.[61]

Granting of the Tomos of autocephaly[edit]

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."[62][63] The signing of the tomos officially established the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.[64]

After the Tomos was signed, Patriarch Batholomew made a speech to Metropolitan Epiphanius.[65] President Poroshenko[66] 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".[67]

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.[63][68] President Poroshenko was present during the signing and handing over of the tomos.[69][70][71]

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.[72][73][72][74]

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.[75] 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."[76] 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 I while considering Epiphanius as primate of the OCU.[77][75] The Tomos was signed by all members of the synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 9 January 2018.[78][79][76][80] 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.[81][82][83][84]

The Tomos was manufactured on a parchment by the renowned painter and calligrapher of Mount Athos, hieromonk Lucas from the Xenophontos monastery.[85]

President Poroshenko, accompanied by Metroplitan Epiphanius, visited several regions of Ukraine to present the Tomos.[86][87]

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.[88][89]

Enthronement of the Primate and first synod[edit]

It was planned that Epiphany would be enthroned on 3 February 2019, which is also the date of his 40th birthday.[90][91][92] Thereafter, the first synod of the OCU was to take place.[93][94] The monasteries of Mount Athos refused to send a delegation for the enthronement ceremony "not because the Fathers do not recognize 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."[95] Two abbots of Mount Athos were planned to come at the enthronement but were to be part of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.[96] On 1 February, once in Kiev, Archimandrite Ephrem, one of the two Athonite abbots, was hospitalized for a heart attack.[97] On 2 February, Archimandrite Ephrem was visited by Metropolitan Epiphanius.[98][99]

As planned, Epiphanius was enthroned on 3 February 2019, in St. Sophia's Cathedral, Kiev.[100] 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.[101][102] Archimandrite Ephrem, who had been hospitalized on 1 February 2019,[97] was not present at the ceremony of enthronment,[103][104] but a hieromonk of Ephrem's monastery was present during the ceremony of enthronment. A monk from a skete of the Koutloumousiou Monastery was also present during the ceremony of enthronment.[105]

The first meeting of the holy synod of the OCU took place on 5 February 2019.[106][107][108]

Speculation on the title of Patriarch[edit]

In an interview with Ukrainian "Direct" TV channel (Pryamiy) 29 December 2018,[51][52][53] 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.[53][109][110]

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.[111]

After the signing of the tomos of autocephaly, Honorary Patriarch of the OCU, Filaret, declared in January 2019 in an interview:[112][113]

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.[114][115]

On 3 February 2019, after his enthronement, Epiphanius declared: "We believe that, in due time in the future, all these efforts will translate into the endorsement of patriarchate status for our local Church."[116]

Reforms[edit]

In an interview published on 13 February 2019, Epiphanius said what were the main task the OCU had to fulfill:[117]

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, declared the OCU would implement reforms "normally and gradually" He gave the example of switching to the Orthodox new calendar.[118] Before that, on 16 December 2018, he had also talked about switching to the Orthodox new calendar.[119]

In a BBC interview, Epiphanius declared:[120][121]

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 prevails 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 recognizes it, then of course the person can participate in the sacraments."[121]

Administration and structure[edit]

Reactions from states[edit]

Ukraine[edit]

During various official speeches, Poroshenko stressed the importance of Ukraine receiving its tomos of autocephaly which Ukraine "deserved",[122] is the equivalent of "a charter of [Ukraine's] spiritual independence",[123] was comparable to a referendum on Ukraine's independence[124] and would be "another pillar of Ukrainian independence".[125] 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!'"[124]

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".[35][126][127] He added autocephaly was "part of our state pro-European and pro-Ukrainian strategy".[126]

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".[128]

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.[129]

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. Those groups are present in each diocese of the UOC-MP and are composed of a lawyer and several men.[130][131] On 20 December, Russian President Putin condemned the creation of the OCU.[132][133] 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."[134]

Canada[edit]

On 8 January 2019, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland congratulated the OCU for receiving its tomos of autocephaly.[135]

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.[136] On 17 December, the U.S. Department of State officially congratulated Metropolitan Epiphanius on his election.[137]

On 10 January 2019, the US State Department headed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement:[138]

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.

Reactions from Eastern Orthodox churches[edit]

Metropolitan 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[139]) "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."[140]

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.[141] On 15 December, the UOC-MP declared it did not recognize the OCU.[142] On 17 December, the synod of the UOC-MP elected a new Metropolitan of Vinnitsa and Bar to replace Metropolitan Simeon,[143][144] declared the OCU schismatic[145] and banned from religious service Metropolitans Simeon and Alexander.[145][146][147][148] The UOC-MP also declared "the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [of the Moscow Patriarchate] still remains the true Church of Christ in Ukraine".[149][148]

UOC-MP members joining the OCU[edit]

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

Following the formation of the OCU, some communities of the UOC-MP joined the OCU (list [uk]). On 16 December 2018, the cathedral of Metropolitan Symeon joined the OCU.[150][151] 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.[152] 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[clarification needed] men.[130][131] On 19 December, the cathedral of metropolitan Oleksandr Drabynko joined the OCU. Oleksandr was one of the bishops of the UOC-MP who had taken part in the unification council.[153][154] On the same day, three parishes of Vinnytsia joined the OCU.[155] On 21 December, a parish of a Transcarpatian village joined the OCU.[156][157] On 22 December, the largest UOC-MP parish of the Lviv oblast, the parish of Zhovkva, joined the OCU.[158][159] On the same day, the parish of Trybukhivtsi in the Buchach region joined the OCU.[160] 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.[161] 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.[162] On 25 December, the parish of the village of Dobrogorshcha in Khmelnytskyi joined the OCU.[163] This church later received threats from the UOC-MP.[164] On 26 December, it was reported that six other parishes of Vinnytsia had joined the OCU.[165] 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.[166] As of 26 December 2018, according to the OCU, more that 20 communities in Vinnytsia had joined the OCU.[167][168] 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.[169] On 27 December, a parish of Khmelnytskyi joined the OCU,[170] as well as one parish in Vinnytsia.[171] 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.[172][173] As of 4 January more that 40 parishes had joined the OCU.[174] As of 15 January near 70 parishes had joined the OCU.[175]

As of 19 January 2019, 100 churches had gone from the UOC-MP to the OCU.[176] According to director of the Department for Religious Affairs and Nationalities of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine Andriy Yurash, as of 1 February 2019, almost 200 parishes had joined the OCU.[177] According to TSN, as of 12 February 2019 more than 300 parishes had joined the OCU.[178]

The UOC-MP contested those results, saying that only 36 churches had transferred to the OCU, and that the other churches who had transferred had unlawfully changed jurisdiction; the UOC-MP claims that "therefore, one cannot say that these communities have changed their confessional identity".[179]

On 24 February 2019, TSN reported that 400 churches had transitioned to the OCU.[180]

On 26 February 2019, BBC Ukraine interrogated OCU officials and the latter revealed that they had no official data of the transfers of churches.[181]

Ecumenical Patriarchate[edit]

On 24 December 2018,[182][183] the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent a letter to the primates of the autocephalous Orthodox churches to ask them to recognize the OCU.[184][185]

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.[139] 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.[186][187] On 23 January 2019, the OCU appeared on one of the official websites of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under the category "autocephalous churches".[188][189]

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.[183]

Russian Orthodox Church (The Moscow Patriarchate)[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.[190] 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."[191] 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.[192]

Serbian Orthodox Church[edit]

On 13 March 2019, the Synod of bishops of the Serbian Church posted a documented titled "The Position of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the church crisis in Ukraine", which reiterated the previously published intention not to recognise the legitimacy of the OCU′s hierarchy; the document also recommended that the Serbian clergy refrain from any communion with thise who are in communion with "Mr Epiphanius Dumenko and his followers".[193][194] The identical document in Russian had been published by the Moscow Patriarchate′s official web site two weeks prior.[195].

Romanian Church[edit]

On 21 February 2019, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church discussed the Ukrainian question[196] and declared in a communiqué:[197]

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."[198]

In March 2019, Epiphanius declared that he was in favor of creating a Romanian vicariate and that they "will discuss everything".[199]

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 diptych of the Divine Liturgy.[200][201] 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.[202][203][204]

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.[205] 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.[206][207][208][209] The Church of Cyprus did not state it recognized the OCU.[210]

Church of Greece[edit]

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.[211][212][182]

In early March 2019, the Permanent Synod discussed the Ukrainian issue and assigned it to two synodal commissions for examination and appropriate recommendations.[213] 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.[214][215] However, the issue of the OCU was not discussed.[216]

Polish Orthodox Church[edit]

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.[217][218]

Reactions from outside of Eastern Orthodoxy[edit]

Catholic Church[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.[219]

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".[220][221] 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".[222][223][224]

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".[225]

Judaism[edit]

Rabbi Oleksandr, head of the Religious Association of Progressive Judaism Communities of Ukraine[226] congratulated Orthodox Ukrainians for the receiving of the tomos of autocephaly.[227]

Islam[edit]

Said Ismagilov, Mufti of the Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine “Ummah” sent a congratulatory message to Epiphanius after the latter's election.[228] On 6 January 2019, Said congratulated the Orthodox Christians for the receiving of the tomos by Ukraine.[229]

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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Bibliography[edit]

  • Denysenko, Nicholas, The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: A Century of Separation, Northern Illinois University Press, 2018 (ISBN 978-0875807898)

External links[edit]