Patriarch Filaret anticipates action by Constantinople regarding Ukraine


RISU, 8 July 2016


Patriarch Filaret described for Ivano-Frankovsk journalists at a press conference during his visit to Carpathia the course and significance of the Great Council of Orthodox churches which was held from 16 to 26 June on Crete and in which representatives of 10 of the 14 Orthodox churches of the world participated


The main goal of Patriarch Filaret's arrival was a visit to the Manyava Elevation of the Cross monastery. It is there that annually on 7 July, we honor John the Baptist, and that a great patriarchal pilgrimage and liturgy are held.


"They were planning this council over the course of more than 50 years," the patriarch said at the press conference. "In the end, all churches agrees that it would be held, though at the request of the Moscow patriarchate it was transferred from Istanbul to Crete. For political reasons. Before the council, all churches that were supposed to attend agreed on the date, place of meeting, and drafts of all document that were considered at it. But suddenly Moscow refused to participate in it. Although it was not the first to declare this. I think that it persuaded the others—the Bulgarian, Serbian, Antioch, and Georgian Orthodox Churches—on which it has influence. Afterward the Serbian church nevertheless joined the council. Moscow explained its absence by saying that the council should be postponed to another year. But Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew insisted. He convoked the synod, which resolved to conduct the council. The event occurred. All documents were adopted as planned—concerning the determination of autonomy, fasting, marriage, and relations of the Orthodox Church. Those churches that did not participate were also not opposed to the adoption of these document, but they awaited yet another council. The Moscow patriarchate has still not said its final word. On 18 July there will be a session of the Holy Synod of the MP, after which they will declare their attitude toward the council that was conducted."


Patriarch Filaret thinks that such a reaction by the RPTs and the position Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew regarding conducting the council of Orthodox churches signifies the end of the Third Rome, which Moscow has considered itself to be over the course of centuries. Now its great influence in the Orthodox world has been ended. "The RPTs did not succeed in stopping the patriarch from conducting the council," the head of the UPTsKP sums up. "This is why it has ceased to be the Third Rome. On the whole, Russia has ceased influencing world politics, although it would wish to occupy the leading position in the world. But now it is not as strong as the USSR was."


The question of Ukrainian Orthodoxy was not discussed during the council. Although, Patriarch Filaret explained, it was discussed in backrooms. The general opinion of heads of various churches is that this is not Russia's business but that of all of Orthodoxy.  And Patriarch Bartholomew's also. "After all, in its time the Kiev metropolitanite was illegally annexed to the RPTs," Patriarch Filaret emphasizes. "So that therefore the RPTs does not recognize it now, considering Ukraine to be its canonical territory. In his turn, the ecumenical patriarch does not think this way but he recognizes Ukraine as his own canonical territory. Therefore he has the right to grant a tomos to an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. We also have asked him about this. In this we are supported by the Ukrainian authorities. The president and the Verkhovna Rada sent a request to Patriarch Bartholomew. The Ukrainian intelligentsia collected more than 5,000 signatures and also delivered it to him. There are also thousands of letters of appeal from the faithful."


In the event that a tomos about autocephaly is received, first, what could the UPTsKP do. It is to demand the recognition of the UPTsMP as not Ukrainian. Then a reregistration of parishes would be held either for UPTsKP or for the RPTs. This should happen without any pressure.


"In any case, there will be a single united Orthodox church in Ukraine," the head of the UPTsKP sums up. "When depends on God." This was reported to RISU by Natalia Paly. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 July 2016)

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