Pat. Bartholomew: There is no Patriarch of Kiev and has never been
According to the Ecumenical Patriarch, before the advent of the OCU, the majority of Ukrainians were outside the Church. And it upset the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
History proves that the Ukrainians, starting from 1325, when the headquarters of the Kiev Metropolitan was permanently transferred to Moscow, made repeated attempts to gain independence from the church leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate, and it’s now that Ukraine’s “God's time” has come. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said this and many other things in an interview with the Serbian edition “Politika”.
“We gave permission to the Moscow Patriarch to accept the Kiev Metropolitan, but under specific conditions that the Russian side did not fulfill,” the Patriarch of Constantinople said.
“With regard to the question of whether the autocephaly granted will eventually help the subject of unity, we are convinced that its bestowal was a necessary condition,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch. “Until recently, the majority of Ukrainians were outside the Church, which upset us. Therefore, we put a lot of effort into healing this problem.”
He acknowledged that he had previously really declared non-intervention of Constantinople in the church problems of Ukraine since this is an internal problem of the Russian Church. However, now, according to the head of the Phanar, circumstances have become very different. In particular, Patriarch Bartholomew recalled Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea.
But the main thing is “these are the requests of Metropolitans Filaret and Macarius to review their cases”.
The Patriarch of Constantinople believes that his Church does not interfere in the affairs of other Churches: “The Ecumenical Patriarchate has never in its history made invasions and interventions outside its borders. We have no expansionist tendencies.”
Patriarch Bartholomew also rejects any mercenary motives in the case of granting autocephaly to the OCU: “There were no motives of personal interest or hidden benefits. We just fulfilled our church commitment.”
The patriarch also denies any political forces interfering with this issue: “Of course, there was no pressure on us from specific countries about Ukraine’s autocephaly. <...> Our Church functions freely, it is independent of external influences and global pressure.”
At the same time, the head of the Phanara said that "a large number of heads of State congratulated the Ecumenical Patriarchate on this decision".
He also explained that the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine was not coordinated with other Local Orthodox Churches for the reason that this was not provided for by the tradition of the Church and “all tomoses on autocephaly that were given to the newly established autocephalous Churches were bestowed by the Constantinople Patriarchate without any prior discussion or collaboration at the pan-Orthodox level."
The Ecumenical Patriarch dismissed the accusations of "Eastern papism" and considered that the Slavs, who make these accusations, are wrong. Patriarch Bartholomew said that "he loves the Slavs and appreciates their devotion," and also knows that "some of them do not accept the role of leadership of the Mother Church". However, even such errors do not affect the motherly feelings of the Ecumenical Church: “We love them, and we will keep on loving them.”
Regarding the fact that after the granting of autocephaly to the OCU, the leader of the UOC KP Filaret Denisenko continues to call himself the “patriarch”, the head of the Phanar said that “There is no Patriarch of Kiev and has never been”, and Constantinople still perceives Filaret as the former Metropolitan of Kiev.
However, the Phanar is not particularly concerned about Filaret’s statements: “We don’t want to interfere in the internal affairs of the Ukrainian Church now unless there is a request. <...> Filaret is not the whole of Ukraine.”