10 Dec 2018 18:11

Kyiv Patriarchate head threatens to disrupt unification assembly

KYIV. Dec 10 (Interfax) - Filaret Denysenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Kyiv Patriarchate, has warned that he and his supporters may disrupt the unification assembly on December 15 if Constantinople does not accept their conditions.

"The Kyiv Patriarchate is the largest church, and it depends on us whether we accept what they offer us or not. If it is useful for us, we will accept it, and if it is useless for us, the state, and the Ukrainian church, we simply won't vote and will reject [it]," Filaret said on Monday, according to the television channel TSN.

Hierarchs of the Kyiv Patriarchate do not agree with the procedure for holding the assembly proposed by Constantinople, he said.

The Kyiv Patriarchate wants only hierarchs to attend the assembly, while Patriarch Bartholomew insists that laypeople and ordinary priests participate in it as well, Filaret said. Secondly, Filaret wants voting in the election of the head of the new church to be open, while Constantinople wants a secret ballot.

The aim of the uniffication assembly is to establish the Ukrainian church independent from the Moscow Patriarchate, which Constantinople is expected to grant a tomos of autocephaly to. It was initially stated that the assembly would take place in early October, then on November 21-22. Later, it was postponed until December 15.

Observers believe that one of the reasons the assembly was postponed was the lack of consensus among participants, including on such issues as the charter and the leadership of the future church. Filaret earlier raised the possibility of being its "honorary patriarch," to Constantinople's dissatisfaction.

The canonical Orthodox Church has refused to participate in this project from the very beginning. In addition, the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said at a session on December 7 that Patriarch Bartholomew does not have the right to convene any assembles in Ukraine and that the decisions adopted by this "assembly" will have no canonical or legal force.