HEAD OF UPTs URGES RADA DEPUTIES NOT TO INTERFERE IN CHURCH AFFAIRS
Interfax-Religiia, 15 June 2016
Metropolitan of Kiev and all-Ukraine Onufrey criticized deputies of the Verkhovna Rada [Supreme Soviet] for interference in church affairs.
"Regarding the appeal to Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew on the part of several people's deputies of our state, it is a direct violation of the status of relations of state and church," the metropolitan declared in an interview published Wednesday on the website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UPTs).
This is how he commented upon the recent initiative of a group of Rada deputies for involving Constantinople in fixing the church situation in Ukraine, where the attempt is being made, not for the first time, to create a local church, uniting the canonical UPTs with the Kiev patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which are not recognized by the Orthodox world.
"I would advise those deputies that it is better to reconsider how they should fulfill their direct obligations that they have with respect to our people, and Christ, who is the head of our church, will resolve church issues without them. And regarding Ukrainian Orthodoxy, I will say this: if politicians had not interfered in our problems, then we would have found a path to unity long ago now," Metropolitan Onufrey emphasized.
To the question of whether the crisis in preparing the Pan-Orthodox Council has an impact on the church situation in Ukraine, he answered that this question is not on the agenda of the council.
"I do not think that the difficulties in preparing the council should provoke in local churches a desire for revenge. If we take that path, then it is possible today to erect a cross on the future Pan-Orthodox Council. I think that everybody understands this and therefore the invasion of one church onto the canonical territory of another should not be," the first hierarch declared. (tr. by PDS, posted 15 June 2016)
UPTs HEAD: PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL SHOULD CREATE ORGAN OF ADMINISTRATION FOR ORTHODOX CHURCH, BUT THE FIRST ATTEMPT FAILED
Religiia v Ukraine, 15 June 2016
In connection with the conflict situation that arose among churches on the eve of the Pan-Orthodox Council, Metropolitan Onufrey, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UPTs) gave an interview to the website of the synod's News and Education Department of the UPTs, Religiia v Ukraine reports.
Recalling the goal of the council, Metropolitan Onufrey said: "The first thing that must be done is to create an organ of administration for the Orthodox church that is represented worldwide. Inasmuch as the Orthodox church is a conciliar church, then it is clear that such a leading organ should be the council, that would include representatives of churches from the various ends of the earth. Now the first attempt to create such a council is occurring. Unfortunately, the first attempt was unsuccessful. The documents which are supposed to be introduced for consideration of the council, after examination of them by our faithful, did not withstand criticism."
The head of the UPTs said that "our church tried to do everything possible to correct the council's documents, but unfortunately this did not happen. Therefore we joined the suggestions of those churches who consider that the council must be postponed to a later date and be held at a time when the documents have been improved for consideration and adoption."
The hierarch is convinced that "the processes for maintaining God's truth and for uniting all around this holy truth is long and painstaking, but it can be done, with God's help."
As to a gathering of a portion of the churches, such a meeting format diminishes its weight. "It will be possible that it is representatives of only individual Orthodox churches who gather, but this meeting will not be a Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council but simply a conference of individual Orthodox churches and, accordingly, their decisions will not have pan-Orthodox significance," Vladyka Onfrey thinks.
He also recalled that the procedures of the council say nothing about the religious situation in Ukraine, although talk about the possibility of an impact on it has been conducted on the part of Constantinople. "I do not think that the difficulties in the preparation of the council should evoke in local churches a desire for revenge," the head of the UPTs said. "If we take that path, then it is possible today to erect a cross on the future Pan-Orthodox Council. I think that everybody understands this and therefore the invasion of one church onto the canonical territory of another should not be."
Metropolitan Onufrey criticized the draft of an appeal to the patriarch of Constantinople from people's deputies of Ukraine and called this "direct violation of the status of relations of state and church." In the hierarch's opinion, "Christ, who is the head of our church, will resolve church issues without them."
Finally the head of the UPTs again repeated his statement that church divisions, in particular in Ukraine, "will be healed in the way that sin is healed—by repentance." (tr. by PDS, posted 16 June 2016)
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