UOC Primate: Phanar's "special status" – the root of crisis in Orthodoxy

Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at a theological forum in Kyiv. Photo: news.church.ua

At the Forum in Kyiv, His Beatitude Met. Onuphry stressed that a way out of the severe crisis facing the World Orthodoxy can be found only in a pan-Orthodox discussion.

The idea of the Church of Constantinople about its special status is the root cause of the severe crisis, which the entire World Orthodoxy is encountering today. The Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine, said this in his welcoming speech to the participants of the International Conference "Catholicity of the Church: Theological, Canonical and Historical Dimensions."

His Beatitude reminded that the conciliar structure of the Church is one of the pillars of Orthodox ecclesiology, and since apostolic times all disputes that arise in the Church have been resolved in a conciliar manner. "When the conciliar spirit in the Church dies down, it entails a decline in other spheres of ecclesiastic life," he said.

“Preservation and protection of the catholic structure of the Church have always been important tasks of the church community. It is extremely significant that those who fought against the Church or wanted to subjugate it to their authority tried, first of all, to restrict its freedom to convene and hold Councils. (...) This is not random at all. Because Councils are a special manifestation of the inner strength of the Church, its freedom in the Holy Spirit,” said the Primate of the UOC.

He added that one of the main threats that almost always haunted the conciliar structure of the Church was attempts to raise the authority of individual hierarchs over the authority of the Councils, and "this is the path taken by Catholicism, viz. establishing papal supremacy in the Ecumenical Church." However, in the East they never agreed to recognize the primacy of any bishop over ecclesiastical councils, their priority having been always indisputable for Eastern theology.

"Unfortunately, today we see that in the Orthodox Church its conciliar structure is under threat. The Patriarchate of Constantinople speaks more and more loudly about its special rights and tries to solve the most important ecclesiastic issues alone. It is the idea of the Church of Constantinople about its special status that is the root cause of the severe crisis, which the entire World Orthodoxy is encountering today.

What worries us most at the moment is that the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to bring the painful issues of church life up for discussion at the Council. But it is obvious that only by convening meetings of the Primates of the Local Churches and possibly an All-Orthodox Council can we find a way out of the severe crisis that has put the World Orthodoxy on the brink of division," said Metropolitan Onuphry.

As reported by the UOJ, on November 11, 2021, the International Conference "Catholicity of the Church: Theological, Canonical and Historical Dimensions" started at the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Representatives of seven Local Orthodox Churches took part in the theological forum.

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