Constantinople patriarch challenges authority of Moscow-related primate


RISU, 7 December 2018


Patriarch Bartholomew urged the primate of the UPTsMP, Onufrey, and other hierarchs of this confession to participate in the unification council on 15 December. Metropolitan Onufrey may also advance his candidacy for the position of head of the new church. Constantinople also reminded Metropolitan Onufrey that after the election of a primate of the new church, he will no longer be able to use the title "Metropolitan of Kiev."


This is stated in an appeal letter of Patriarch Bartholomew to the primate of the UPTsMP. The text of this document was published on the Facebook page of Metropolitan Alexander.


"We wanted to bring to the attention of Your Beatitude these decisions, adopted preliminarily, by the Mother-Church through the exarchs we appointed in Kiev, but unfortunately you refused to cooperate with them. Returning now to that question a second time through this patriarchal letter and an appeal to you as 'His Eminence Metropolitan of Kiev' out of forbearance and kindness, we announce to you that after the election of a primate of the Ukrainian church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiastically and canonically to use the title Metropolitan of Kiev, which you are still using now in violation of the conditions stated in the official document of 1686," the document says.


Patriarch Bartholomew also urges Metropolitan Onufrey to participate in the unification council and in the election of a primate of the new Ukrainian church. The metropolitan is permitted to be a candidate for the position of head of the new church.


"For this reason, in a spirit of peace and love we ask you, Your Eminence Brother, after paying attention to and considering our canonical acts in the spirit of historical truth and healthy ecclesiology to respond to this challenge and harmonize yourself with the traditions of your memorable predecessors: Silvestr, the successor of the memorable Peter Mohila, and other metropolitans of Kiev, Dionisy, Iosif, and Antony, who supported the noble Ukrainian people and their pious nation, adhering to the decisions of the Mother-Church; and we ask you immediately and in the spirit of harmony and unity to participate along with your hierarchs in the future constituent council of the united Ukrainian Orthodox Church and in the electoral processes for determining its primate. Your Eminence is, of course, permitted to be a candidate for this position. We also ask you and your hierarchy to be in communication with former Metropolitan of Kiev Filaret and former Archbishop of Lvov Makary and with others with them, inasmuch as they were in full measure restored by us to the archbishopric, but not to their own offices and titles through our positive decision on their appellate requests, which they often sent to us, as this is clearly and wisely proclaimed by the Divine and Sacred Canons 9 and 17 of the holy fathers of Chalcedon. There is no need to repeat that the consideration of appellate petitions is not 'legitimizing of schisms,' but a chance to heal them, as in the case of the schism that has tormented the beloved Ukrainian people over the course of three decades," the ecumenical patriarch writes. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 December 2018)



RIA Novosti, 7 December 2018


Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, in his letter, used an insulting tone against Metropolitan of Kiev Onufrey, declared the head of the synodal Department for Relations of Church with Society and News Media, Vladimir Legoida.


It was reported earlier that the patriarch of Constantinople sent a letter to the head of the UPTs in which he allowed him to be a candidate for primate of the "unified" church, who is supposed to be elected at the "unification council" of Orthodox churches in Ukraine on 15 December. At the same time, according to the text of the message, as soon as a primate of the "unified" church is elected, Metropolitan Onufrey will no longer be able to use the title of metropolitan of Kiev and all-Ukraine.


"Bartholomew says that he is addressing Vladyka Onufrey as metropolitan of Kiev only out of kindness, stating that His Beatitude Onufrey is allegedly using the title of metropolitan of Kiev and all-Ukraine illegally. Patriarch Bartholomew earlier has frequently emphasized that the only canonical head of the Ukrainian church is Metropolitan Onufrey, but now he is using frankly insulting words regarding him," Legoida wrote in his Telegram Channel, commenting on the text of the letter that has been made public.


A photocopy of the letter was published on the Facebook page of Metropolitan of Pereiaslav-Khmelnitsky and Vishnev Alexander. He is a long-time supporter of the idea of autocephaly in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The metropolitan did not participate in the recent Bishops' Council of the UPTs.


As reported in the Union of Orthodox Journalists, citing sources in church circles, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Onufrey, and following him other hierarchs of the UPTs also, who received invitations to the "unification" council, returned them to Constantinople without an answer.


That the "unification" church council will be held on 15 December in Kiev was reported by Petro Poroshenko. There the creation of an autocephalous local Orthodox church in Ukraine is to be proclaimed and its charter confirmed and a primate elected. The draft of the charter was confirmed at the Synod of the patriarchate of Constantinople in late November.


Judging by articles, the new church will be greatly restricted in rights. It will not be able to decide important questions independently, nor canonize saints, nor brew myrrh for sacramental anointing. At the same time, the canonical UPTs operating in Ukraine is completely autonomous and makes decisions independently.


The patriarchate of Constantinople confirmed for RIA Novosti the date of the council and was told that the patriarchate did not want to include this in the official communication regarding the results of the Synod. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 December 2018)

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