Recognition of Ukrainian church in suspense


RIA Novosti, 16 October 2019


The Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church discussed unofficially a means for resolving the crisis arising in Orthodoxy because of the granting of a tomos concerning autocephaly to Ukraine and in relations of the two churches because of a session of the bishop's council of the Greek church, a source in Greek church circles told RIA Novosti. He said unofficial talks are being conducted in connection with the session of the Synod of the RPTs, planned for 17 October, at which relations with the Greek church will be discussed.


"It is possible to avoid a worsening of the situation if the RPTs makes a suggestion to Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos to take on the role of mediator, in order to seat at one table all primates of Orthodox churches, along with the patriarch of Constantinople, and to create a pan-Orthodox council for resolving the problem provoked by the Ukrainian question. That is, for ending the split between Constantinople and Moscow," the news agency's source said.


He said that if there were such an official suggestion, Ieronymos would have to accept it and become a mediator for resolving the crisis and this would permit avoiding a schism also within the Greek church.


This option is now being discussed, the agency's interlocutor said.


"Both the patriarch of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church accept the Greek church," he added.


"The Russian Orthodox Church took into account the opinions of all metropolitans that were published after the council," the source said.


He again declared that it is impossible to consider that a decision of a bishop's council concerning recognizing the autocephaly of Ukraine has been adopted, despite another statement by the Synod of the Greek church. "This is untrue. They did not answer the main question that they was no vote," he said.


On Saturday, the Greek church recognized the right of the patriarch of Constantinople to grant autocephaly and it gave to Archbishop Ieronymos the right to make further decisions regarding the autocephaly of the church of Ukraine. The official final recognition of the "new church" of Ukraine will be the prayerful commemoration by Ieronymous of the "primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine," Epifany Dumenko.


The conduct of a joint liturgy is planned for 19 October, but in the new situation it may not take place. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 October 2019)



RISU, 15 October 2019


The deputy head of the Department for External Church Relations of the PTsU, Evstraty, responding to criticism by Moscow on Facebook, explained that the Council of the Church of Greece, on 12 October, recognized the autocephaly of the PTsU in accordance with all rules.


"As I expected, the Russian side is trying 'to mitigate informationally' the consequences for itself of the decision made by the Bishops' Council of the Church of Greece. . . . Speculation has now begun around the fact that at the Council a vote did not occur procedurally, and consequently, supposedly a 'decision was not made,'" Vladyka Evstraty writes.


He explained that, in the first place, it was this procedure that was deliberately chosen, because in the conclusions of the synodal committees on which the Permanent Synod and Bishops' Council rely subsequently it is indicated that the right of the pan-Orthodox proclamation of autocephaly is the right of the ecumenical patriarch. Therefore conducting a vote on this matter in another local church would place that right in doubt, and that would mean all autocephalies that have been proclaimed by the ecumenical patriarchate, including the autocephaly of the Greek church itself.


"Simply put, it would look unnatural if, after the election of a primate in some local church a vote were taken in another local church as to whether to accept his election," Vladyka Evstraty writes, and he argues further for the legality of the recognition of Ukrainian autocephaly.


"In the second place, the Council chose especially a committee headed by Metropolitan Ieronymos for the public presentation of its position. So that the statement he made after the Council about recognizing the autocephaly of the Ukrainian church is not simply the opinion of an individual hierarch (like the opinions of those who do not wish to support the conciliar decision and upon whose statements the Moscow side is trying to rely in its propaganda). Metropolitan Ieronymos announced the official position of the Council, and consequently the position of the Church of Greece.


"One way or another, in a week this Moscow informational smog will dissipate. But it is necessary, it would seem, to explain obvious things so that as few people as possible are poisoned by it." (tr. by PDS, posted 17 October 2019)

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