Bishop Irinej: One can’t grant autocephaly without request of Church itself

Bishop Irinej of Bačka meets Metropolitane Luke in the Kovilj Monastery in Serbia

Autocephaly is not a matter of politics, says the famous theologian, a member of the Crete Council, Bishop Irinej of Bačka.

To resolve the issue of granting autocephaly in one Local Church without asking the Church itself is impossible. This was said by the bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church during a talk with Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol.

"I think that most of the bishops would not be against some new autocephaly. But if this is the result of political, nationalistic and all kinds of fussy considerations, we cannot go for it, because autocephaly is not a matter of politics, as people think today. Not only Poroshenko, all these politicians, they think so: everything should be used for their policies, which always bring a lot of income only to their pocket," the bishop stressed.

According to him, "the schismatics headed by Denisenko declared themselves autocephalous. Therefore, there is no communion with them. Let them return to what they fell out of and then put forward their demands. And it would be useful for the life of the Church," he said, adding that he does not even know "by what dispensation to recognize his bishop rank": «And he still claims the leadership of the created structure. It is impossible without any procedure of repentance to tell him "we now consider you not only outside the Church but even proclaim you autocephalous and first among your followers." It is impossible».

As for the canonical structure of our Church, we do not have "papism". We have the concept of primacy in honor, privilege, etc., but this is always thought not absolutely, but only inside the Council. For example, I cannot be first for myself, so today we are four here – someone must be the first to coordinate us. But he is not above the others.

Answering the question whether Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has the right to grant autocephaly alone to territories that for several centuries are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Bishop Irinej said: "Of course, it is necessary to solve questions collectively, including the problems of schism – this is the best method. Constantinople has its special responsibility here as the first see of the Orthodox Church, but it does not have any super-jurisdictional, super-autocephalic power. Only in agreement with the Local Mother Church, on the basis of Her request, or even offering Her good services, but always together, without individual decisions."

The hierarch commented on the entry of Patriarch Irinej, the Primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, to the website "Mirotvorets" ("Peacemaker"): "I think that these divisions, and especially this enmity, are imposed on the basis of some plan by enemies of Orthodoxy and Rus, and Serbs and Greeks - all of us. And our Patriarch said nothing more. He did not interfere in the state issues of Russia and Ukraine, he simply said that the one who supports the sсhism is the enemy of the Orthodox Church."

Earlier, Bishop Irinej expressed doubt that Phanar would decide on granting autocephaly to Ukraine, bypassing the canonical rules.

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