Epiphany: Churches shouldn’t discuss but implement Phanar’s decision on OCU

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the head of the OCU Epiphany Dumenko. Photo: UNIAN

Local Churches should not call into question but "just recognize" the act committed by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the head of the OCU believes.

If one or another Local Orthodox Church calls into question the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, then it also jeopardizes its own autocephaly, said the head of the OCU Epiphany Dumenko in an interview with BBC News Ukraine.

According to the "hierarch", the process of recognizing the OCO turned out to be difficult, because "the Russian state, represented by the Russian Orthodox Church, has joined in the process of stubbornly opposing the recognition of Ukrainian autocephaly by other Local Orthodox Churches".

Nevertheless, he emphasized, "today there are many positive messages from other Local Orthodox Churches".

“We witness a certain “hybrid recognition,” Dumenko said. “Sometimes there is no clear position of this or that Primate of the Local Church, but its bishops have positive thoughts on this issue and even come and concelebrate with us. If we recall the celebration of the feast of St. Vladimir in Kiev (July 2019), then for the first time the hierarch of the Church of Greece arrived for the celebration. During a briefing on the Vladimir Hill, I was asked about this and I said that de facto the Church of Greece had already recognized the autocephaly of the OCU. The ROC then made a fuss and that Metropolitan John even had to make a statement that he had made a personal decision to come. But it really was so – gradually we established such contact with the Greek Church, and then official recognition followed. ”

Epiphany added that now “there are several more Local Orthodox Churches that are going to recognize the OCU”.

“Recently, the bishop of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia participated in the service with us in Kiev. Also, a hierarch of the Cypriot Orthodox Church concelebrated with our delegation led by Archbishop Eustratiy. Also, the Bulgarian bishop, being on the canonical territory of the Greek Orthodox Church, led the service, which commemorated the name of the Primate of the OCU,” he said.

In his opinion, such a “hybrid recognition” is the beginning of “final recognition on the part of those Churches that are now hesitating to a certain extent”.

“I think that in the future they will definitely make a positive decision on the recognition of our autocephalous status,” added the "primate" of the PCU. “<...> We see that the Russian Orthodox Church is trying to put pressure on the hierarchy, and therefore representatives of the Local Churches are now waiting to a certain extent, do not speak publicly, and only then finally announce the decision. “I think that will be the case with many Local Churches, which will bring us good news and recognize us at the beginning of next year.”

At the same time, the head of the newly formed church structure emphasized that the Local Churches should not question the decisions of the Patriarch of Constantinople since "historically, he has the right to make such decisions".

“Other Churches should just recognize this act, which the Ecumenical Patriarch committed, and not call into question. For if one or another Local Orthodox Church calls into question the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch, then it also jeopardizes its own autocephaly. Therefore, the Ecumenical Patriarch now communicates with other primates, his representatives convey a clear position and convince that other Churches should support the decision of Constantinople,” Epiphany concluded.

We recall that earlier the Greek media have published fragments of a conversation with the “Greek primate”, without revealing his identity, who stated that the Patriarch of Bartholomew of Constantinople threatens church leaders with the removal of autocephaly. 

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