Constantinople leader dismisses Kirill's letter


RIA Novosti, 1 January 2019


Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew called the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine a "great historic event" and promised that it will culminate in the delivery of a tomos, despite opposition from several churches.


With reference to the autocephaly of the Ukrainian church Bartholomew started his brief speech at the holiday ceremony of cutting the New Year's cake, the vasilopita.


The ceremony took place on 31 December and videos were distributed to the news media by the patriarchate.


"The Lord blessed the departing year. We praise him for all the good that he gave us and especially for the great historic event of the autocephaly of the church of Ukraine, a matter that will be finished and blessed next Sunday in the presence of the new primate of this sister church and in the presence of the president of the country, Mr. Poroshenko. They will receive the tomos of autocephaly here," Bartholomew said.


He emphasized that "there was a lot of strong opposition" to this decision, but it did not shake the position of Constantinople.


In conclusion the patriarch expressed the hope that 2019 will be a year of peace for the whole world and that the Orthodox church will pray for this.


"And we will pray that the sister churches, which are unjustly opposing the decisions and initiatives of the primary see of the Constantinople church, will finally start thinking more logically and justly and with great respect and gratitude to the church of our ecumenical patriarchate," Bartholomew added.


At the patriarchate of Constantinople, RIA Novosti was told that this speech was not connected with the letter by Patriarch Kirill, who urged that the process of granting autocephaly be stopped.


"This is not the first time that Patriarch Bartholomew has said this. He announced this previously and he said today, yesterday, on Christmas, that in January he will present the tomos of autocephaly," the news agency's interlocutor said.


He added that the process of granting autocephaly will not be stopped and the delivery of the tomos will be its final stage.


The patriarch of Constantinople intends to deliver the tomos concerning autocephaly to the newly created Ukrainian church on 6 January, the feast of the Epiphany.


On 15 December in Kiev, on the initiative of President Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew, a "unification council" was held, in which primarily representatives of uncanonical church structures participated. Only two bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church came for it, whom as a result the UPTs inhibited from ministry. The outcome of the event was the election of the head of the new "autocephalous church," Epifany Dumenko.


The Russian Orthodox Church called the canonical significance of the "assembly" in Kiev null and void and the possibility of recognizing Epifany hardly a feasible task. Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill sent to Bartholomew a call to stop while it is still not too late and not to present the tomos, nor participate in the political adventure of the legalization of schism in Ukraine, nor inscribe his name in the list of ignominious bishops. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 January 2019)


Obozrevatel, 1 January 2019


Patriarch of Constantinople confirmed his intention to present a tomos to the united Ukrainian Orthodox Church on 6 January.


As the patriarch said on Monday, 31 December, at a New Year's ceremony, the presentation of the tomos will be a "great and historic event."


"Here, in the Mother Church, they will receive a tomos concerning autocephaly. There was, as is known, much opposition, very fierce opposition to this historic decision of our ecumenical patriarchate," he said.


"However, this will not be a hindrance for us since we base our decisions on the holy canons and on the privileges of the ecumenical patriarchate, on the procedure and traditions of Orthodoxy," Bartholomew added.


On 14 December, a unification council elected Metropolitan of Pereiaslav and Belaia Tserkov Epifany to the post of primate of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.


In introducing Epifany on Sophia Square in Kiev, President Petro Poroshenko declared that Ukraine was not, is not, and will not be the canonical territory of the Russian church, and now all ties with the Kremlin's empire are finally severed. He also added that he will travel with Epifany to Constantinople for the ceremony of handing over the tomos.


The patriarchate of Moscow reacted sharply to the results of the council and stated that the canonical significance of its conduct as well as its results are "equal to zero."


The head of the UPTsMP, Onufrey, lost the title of Metropolitan of Kiev and all-Ukraine upon the conclusion of the unification council. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 January 2019)


Obozrevatel, 1 January 2019


Russia tries to impose its policy on Ukraine with the aid of religious matters. That opinion was expressed by Ukrainian Petro Poroshenko in a column for The Economist, which was published by the magazine Novoe Vremia. The Ukrainian leader said that Moscow tries to influence Kiev with the help of its church network.


"Russia has a stranglehold in Ukraine in its church network, viewing it as an extensive channel of influence. The Russian Orthodox Church is a part of the political system of the Russian Federation. Putin himself compared the RPTs to a nuclear weapon. It would be a crime to overlook this," the Ukrainian president declared.


He emphasized that negotiations about a tomos for the Ukrainian church have reached the finish line, and this fact is evidence that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Synod have rejected all claims of Moscow on Ukraine as the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church.


"The tomos concerning autocephaly is like another declaration of independence. It should be viewed as the weightiest part of state strategy. Its essence is most accurately conveyed in the conjunction of two catch phrases of Mikola Khvylovy: 'Away from Moscow! Europe now," Poroshenko wrote.


As Obozrevatel reported, Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew confirmed his intention to grant a tomos to the united Ukrainian Orthodox Church on 6 January. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 January 2019)

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