UOC officially comments on the attempts to create an "autocephalous Church"
The question of granting church autocephaly falls within the competence of canon law, and not within the competence of the authorities, since in Ukraine the Church is separated from the state, believes the UOC.
The initiatives of President Poroshenko and the Parliament are an excess of power, and to overcome the schism in Ukrainian Orthodoxy is possible only through repentance of those who have fallen away from the unity with the canonical Church and world Orthodoxy. This is stated in the statement of the DECR of the UOC concerning the appeal of the President of Ukraine to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on "granting the Tomos of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine".
"In accordance with Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the Church is separated from the state, and therefore the Church decides on the issues of church life independently. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has canonical relations with Ecumenical Orthodoxy, did not ask Patriarch Bartholomew to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and did not authorize either the President or the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. In connection with this, the above initiatives are an excess of power, as well as interference in church affairs," says the statement.
The document says that such actions by the authorities could be justified only if the Church in Ukraine had a state status. Since the Church is separated from the state, the authorities have no reason to interfere in church affairs.
The issue of granting church autocephaly falls within the competence of canon law, and not within the competence of the Ukrainian authorities, and only the canonical Church has the right to initiate such statements, the UOC believes.
"At the same time, it is a matter of concern that the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is viewed as an issue not only of religion, but also of geopolitics. We believe that the sphere of religious life should not become the subject of political manipulation. We should not confuse church and political, and even more so geopolitical issues. In this regard, we consider it unacceptable that autocephaly should be viewed from a geopolitical point of view. For the Church, the issue of autocephaly is not political, but ecclesiological, that is, with regard to the life and nature of the Church as the Body of Christ (cf. Eph. 1: 22-23)," highlights the statement.
"The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has always advocated and stands for the restoration of church unity and for a single Church. However, the method proposed and voiced by the authorities to achieve unity does not correspond to the canonical right of the Church and contradicts the legislation of Ukraine… We believe that we must first overcome the schism, restore church unity, and only then raise a question about changing the canonical status of the single Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Since it is impossible without a canonical Church to have a single Church in Ukraine, there is reason to believe that, in fact, under the pretext of creating a single Church today, there are further attempts to legitimize the church schism," the UOC explains.
The hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church adds that, having regular contacts with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, sees no reason to believe that Phanar could commit acts that would interfere with the unity of the Church, both locally and globally.
"Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew has repeatedly and publicly called His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine the only canonical head of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Today, people outside the Church try to convince us that the same Patriarch Bartholomew can grant autocephaly without even asking the canonical head of Ukrainian Orthodoxy about this," the UOC states.
"In addition, the Patriarchate of Constantinople itself, like all other Local Orthodox Churches, does not consider the "UOC KP "and" UAOC" full-fledged Churches, as evidenced by the non-recognition of the validity of the priesthood of these two structures... The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the Church that has existed and operated on our lands since the baptism of Kievan Rus’ in 988. The "UOC KP" and "UAOC" are only parts of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which have relatively recently moved away from the unity with the Church. Accordingly, the restoration of the unity of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine we see in the return of those parts that have fallen away, and then there will be "one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:16)," reads the message.
In conclusion, the UOC calls on believers to preserve the unity of the Church, to be calm, not to succumb to information provocations, to pray and not forget that the fate of the Church is wholly and entirely in the hands of God.