25 Sep 2018 18:25

Synod of Ukrainian Orthodox Church sees appointment of 2 Constantinople exarchs as interference in internal affairs

MOSCOW. Sept 25 (Interfax) - The Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to stop interfering in the church's affairs at a meeting on Tuesday.

"This appointment [of two exarchs in Kyiv by Constantinople] was qualified as gross interference in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's internal affairs and a violation of its canonical territory. Therefore, the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called on Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to stop interfering in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's internal affairs and not violate its canonical territory," the Synod said in a decision posted on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's website.

The two appointees, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton, "must leave the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's canonical territory," as their activities are uncanonical and disturb Ukraine's interfaith peace, the decision reads.

The Synod also announced that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's episcopate had suspended concelebration with hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Synod called on the clergy, monastics, and laypeople to pray even more arduously for the preservation of the unity of Orthodoxy.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced on April 17 that he would urge Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to issue a tomos (ordinance) on setting up a "unified local church" in Ukraine. The idea met with protests from the Moscow Patriarchate and its self-governed element, the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which did not ask for autocephaly.

Patriarch Bartholomew accepted Poroshenko's address for consideration. Over the next several months, the Russian Church had bilateral contacts with other Orthodox churches around the world to win their support for preventing interference in its internal affairs and the legalization of a schism in Ukraine.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia made his last attempt to settle the matter diplomatically by visiting Istanbul to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew on August 31. However, despite a "brotherly conversation," as both parties described it in interviews with journalists, the very next day Patriarch Bartholomew presented a report at an assembly of the Constantinople bishops in which he described Moscow's activities in Ukraine's ecclesiastical affairs as uncanonical interference and claimed this right for himself. Soon afterward, the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced the appointment of two bishops as its exarchs in Kyiv to pave the way toward "Ukraine's autocephaly."

The Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate qualified Constantinople's actions as incursion into its canonical territory and announced at on September 14 that it was suspending liturgical mention of the patriarch of Constantinople, which is seen by some as analogous to breaking off diplomatic relations.