Rector of Kyiv Theological Academy compares independence of UOC and OCU

Bishop Sylvester (Stoychev) at the International Scientific and Practical Conference in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Photo: news.church.ua

Bishop Sylvester (Stoychev) studied the statutes of the UOC and OCU and came to the conclusion that the UOC has more independence.

In certain positions, the scope of the rights of the UOC is comparable or even greater than the scope of the rights of the OCU, said the rector of the KTA, Bishop Sylvester of Belogorodka in his report at the International Scientific and Practical Conference in Kiev.

The hierarch compared the documents that regulate the life of the UOC and the OCU. Such an analysis showed that in some issues the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is more independent than Epiphany’s structure.

For example, the Primate in the UOC is elected by the Ukrainian bishops from among themselves, without any outside interference. The Patriarch of Moscow only “blesses” the already elected Primate but does not “approve” and cannot reject the candidate elected. In the OCU, the head is elected by his own local council, but in case of problems with the election, Phanar decides.

The author of the report drew attention to the fact that the difference between the UOC and the OCU can be clearly seen when comparing the enthronements of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry and the head of the OCU Epiphany. While the canonical Metropolitan of Kyiv was enthroned by the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the enthronement of Epiphany was actually headed by the representative of Phanar, Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul.

In addition, the Tomos of the OCU requires that the "Kyiv Metropolitan" should turn to the Patriarch of Constantinople "to resolve important issues of ecclesiastic, dogmatic and canonical nature". On issues that are not regulated by the statute, a commission is created from representatives of Phanar and the OCU. Any of the OCU clerics can file a complaint with the Patriarch of Constantinople if he does not agree with the Ukrainian church authorities.

The KTA rector noted that the UOC is not dependent on the ROC that much. An appeal to the Council of Bishops of the ROC can only be submitted by bishops. Other issues of church life and legal proceedings are resolved within the UOC itself.

“The problem of pastoral care by the Orthodox Diaspora is also extremely topical. Only since the beginning of the 1990s. about 7 million of our compatriots left Ukraine. Therefore, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been working for more than one year to create an effective mechanism for the pastoral care of Ukrainians in the Diaspora,” Bishop Sylvester emphasized.

As for the OCU, according to its tomos, the jurisdiction is “limited to the territory of the Ukrainian State”, therefore the OCU “cannot ordain bishops or establish parishes” outside Ukraine.

Vladyka Sylvester noted that Constantinople has reserved many mechanisms of influence on the inner life of the OCU.

“The Tomos of Autocephaly of the OCU and its Charter clearly testify to the modern self-consciousness of the Patriarch of Constantinople. The prescribed doctrine on primacy in the Ecumenical Church has been officially rejected by the Russian Orthodox Church. This doctrine is today one of the main factors of deep division in World Orthodoxy.

So, the Ukrainian church conflict has not only a political and canonical dimension, but also a dogmatic, doctrinal one. We are faced today with two very different interpretations of the structure of World Orthodoxy. It is quite obvious that the solution of the church conflict in Ukraine will be closely linked with theological polemics over primacy in the Ecumenical Church,” the author of the report summed up.

Earlier, the UOJ reported that a letter from Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) to Patriarch Bartholomew about the inappropriateness of having several Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine was posted on social networks.

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