Other Orthodox churches' responses to independence of Ukrainian church, or lack thereof


RIA Novosti, 6 January 2019


Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew delivered to Ukraine a document concerning the independence of the new church structure.


It is not recognized by any other church except Constantinople. Not one representative of local Orthodox churches attended the ceremony.


A number of Orthodox hierarchs spoke out on the issue of autocephaly and came to the conclusion that it will not bring peace to Ukraine and casts doubt on the reputation of Bartholomew himself.


Patriarch of Antioch and the Entire East Ioann X answered Patriarch Bartholomew's letter in which he explained the granting of autocephaly to the "new church" in Ukraine. Patriarch Ioann X emphasized that these events evoke concern.


"We wish to see the unity of the Orthodox world strengthened and consolidated. . . . We very much urge Your All-Holiness to call your brothers, primates of Orthodox churches, to study these matters in order to protect our church from dangers that will not lead to peace and harmony in Ukraine nor in the Orthodox world," says Ioann X's letter, which was published on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church.


The primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irenaeus, declared that Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew cast doubt on his own reputation and the reputation of his church by his unilateral decision, since such problems should be resolved by all local churches.


Patriarch Irenaeus said that the real reasons for granting Ukraine autocephaly "are not of a canonical nature but a political nature—the wish of one part of secular forces, occupying Ukraine, to come closer to Russia and to receive oversight both for this country and for Moscow."


"The patriarch of Constantinople did not consult with anybody, but apparently with an agreement with other forces of this world has tried to resolve this matter and, as we see, up to this point it is being resolved in a most catastrophic manner. A manner which has legalized and continued a new schism in Ukraine," Irenaeus noted in a Christmas interview with Serbian church television TV Khram.


The primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church said that previously proponents of autocephaly in Ukraine were a group of schismatics, who had been unfrocked, which the patriarch of Constantinople himself had recognized, but "now he has stepped through several canonical questions and problems and decided that he must grant them autocephaly."


"The patriarch of Constantinople resolved the matter in a most tragic manner. I personally regret that the current patriarch has come to such a state with his position on Ukraine. He both first of all has cast doubt on himself and has harmed the reputation of the patriarchate of Constantinople. We respect it; for us it is the Mother-Church, although under the Turks we also had problems with it, but we have forgotten them in view of the positive influence of Constantinople with respect to our church," Irenaeus concluded.


The ceremony of the handing over of a staff and a document concerning the independence of the new church structure from Patriarch Bartholomew to the head of the "new Ukrainian church," Epifany Dumenko, was held in the patriarchal church of St. George.


It was attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian politicians, and hierarchs of the patriarchate of Constantinople.


During the ceremony, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew signed a tomos concerning the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in St. George's cathedral of the ecumenical patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey.


The Ukrainians present applauded and someone shouted out loudly the nationalistic slogan "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!" . . . . (tr. by PDS, posted 6 January 2019)

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