27 May 2022 20:23

Ukrainian Orthodox Church Council declares full independence

MOSCOW. May 27 (Interfax) - The Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) held in Kyiv on Friday has expressed dissent with Patriarch Kirill's position over the hostilities in Ukraine, and approved changes to the UOC charter, which signify its full independence.

"We express our disagreement with the Position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia over the war in Ukraine. The Council has adopted relevant changes and amendments to the Charter of administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which attest to the total self-reliance and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," the UOC Council's resolution published on the UOC website said.

The Council has also appealed to the Russian authorities, asking them to continue the negotiation process.

For the period of martial law, when ties between dioceses and the church governing center are either complicated or absent, the Council is giving diocesan archbishops the right to make their own decisions on matters relating to diocesan life, which lie within the remit of the Synod or the UOC leader, with a subsequent notification of the hierocracy upon restoration of such a possibility.

Among other things, the Council set the task of not leaving the six million Ukrainians, who have fled the country in the past three months, without spiritual care.

With regard to the schism within the Ukrainian Orthodox clergy, the Council members expressed their hope that it will be overcome through a dialogue that would only be possible if certain conditions are met. Chief among them is to stop seizing churches and forcing UOC parishes to transfer to the non-canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

The OCU is effectively dependent on the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the OCU's canonical status is "considerably inferior" to the freedoms and opportunities in religious activities as envisaged by the UOC charter, the council said.

Furthermore, it is important to resolve the issue of the canonicity of the OCU, which at present lacks the apostolic succession of bishops.

"The Council expresses its deep conviction that a guarantee of a successful dialogue should be not only the wish to restore the unity of the church, but also a sincere aspiration to build one's life based on the Christian conscience and moral purity," the resolution said.