Moscow does well at international conference


by Aleksei Mikheev

RIA Novosti, 27 January 2016


Participants in the precouncil summit of primates and representatives of local Orthodox churches in Chambesy agreed to exclude from the agenda of the planned Pan-Orthodox Council discussion of possible autocephaly of the Ukrainian church and "the legalization of the schism in Ukraine," Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill declared on Wednesday.


At the present time in Ukraine several churches of the Orthodox rite are functioning: the UPTs of the Moscow patriarchate, which is recognized by all local Orthodox churches of the world, and the so-called UPTs of the Kiev patriarchate, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAPTs), and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The Kiev patriarchate and UAPTs, with the support of political authorities, have been demanding recognition of their legitimacy for more than two decades.


"The Ukrainian topic will not be considered at the council and the possibility of granting autocephaly or legalization of the schism will not be discussed, which is very important, and this was confirmed personally by Patriarch Bartholomew [of Constantinople]. He said outright: neither during the council nor after it will any efforts be made in order to legalize the schism or to unilaterally grant autocephaly [to the Ukrainian church]," the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church said.


He emphasized that his position on the "Ukrainian question" was heard by all participants in the conference in Chambesy. "There was not a single voice that opposed the facts I presented," and "the interpretation of these facts on the lips of participants in the summit was exactly the same as on my lips." He said that "all those persons who stirred up schism and disorder" in Ukraine should understand this well.


"This disorder, this schism will not be supported by the Orthodox world," Patriarch Kirill is sure. In his opinion, there exists the only path to overcoming the Ukrainian church schism—this is negotiations and the achievement of results on the basis of the holy canons. "In Ukraine there is the only Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is recognized by all Orthodox churches and therefore if people wish to be in fellowship with world-wide Orthodoxy they should be reunited with it on the basis of canons existing in world-wide Orthodoxy," the first hierarch is sure.


"There is no other way, and no other message for Ukraine from the patriarchs exists today," the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church concluded. (tr. by PDS, posted 28 January 2016)



Religiia v Ukraine, 28 January 2016


In the suburbs of Geneva the session of the assembly (synaxis) of primates of the Orthodox churches has concluded. The participants in the event made the decision to conduct the Pan-Orthodox Council from 16 to 27 June in the theological academy on the Greek island of Crete, a correspondent of the portal Religiia v Ukraine reports.


The academy on Crete has often served as the venue for ecumenical and inter-Orthodox meetings and is located within the jurisdiction of the Constantinople patriarchate.


The conditions for conducting the council, agreed to by participants, were set forth in a memorandum that contains four points.


In the first point the topic is Ukraine. It recognizes the UPTsMP as the only canonical church. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, insisted upon this.


As Patriarch Bartholomew explained, when hierarchs of his church visit Ukraine they do so on the invitation of secular authorities, and at the same time they do not concelebrate with those who are separated from the Russian church. (Several hierarchs of the UPTs of the Constantinople patriarchate, particularly Archbishop Vsevolod and Metropolitan Konstantin, concelebrated with clergy of the UPTs of the Kiev patriarchate and UAPTs—ed.).


The second point of the memorandum proposes a resolution of the disputed question between the Jerusalem and Antioch church regarding the parish in Qatar.


According to the third point, the questions of the procedure for granting autocephaly and the order of churches in the diptychs are excluded.


The fourth point is devoted to the resolution of the crisis in the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, whose primate was recognized conditionally by the patriarchate of Constantinople.


"In the course of the five-day work of the assembly, inter alia, there was often discussed the difficult situation that has developed in Ukraine, particularly, the topic of the violations of rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the part of supporters of the Kiev patriarchate. Participants in the assembly expressed unanimous support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the person of its primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan of Kiev and all-Ukraine Onufrey.


The following topics were approved for introduction to the council: The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World, The Orthodox Diaspora, Autonomy and the Ways to Proclaim it, The Significance of Fasting and its Observance Today, and The Relationship of the Orthodox Church to the Rest of the Christian World. The draft of the document "Sacrament of Marriage and Impediments to it" was signed by the heads of the delegations of all local churches with the exception of the Georgian and Antioch Orthodox Churches.


There also were adopted at the synaxis decisions regarding the creation of a pan-Orthodox secretariat and the participation of outside observers in the beginning and conclusion of work of the council, and the joint responsibility for costs associated with the council.  (tr. by PDS, posted 28 January 2016)

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