Council declares full independence of UOC

The Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on 27 May 2022. Photo: news.church.ua

The Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church amended its Statute on May 27, 2022.

The Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church held in Feofaniya on May 27, 2022, considered the issues of church life, which arose as a result of the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, reports the UOC Informational and Educational Department

As a result of the work, the Council approved the following: 

  • The Council condemns the war as a violation of God's commandment "You shall not murder!" (Ex.20:13) and expresses its condolences to all who have suffered in the war. 
  • The Council appeals to the authorities of Ukraine and the authorities of the Russian Federation to continue the negotiation process and the search for a strong and reasonable word which can stop the bloodshed. 
  • The UOC expresses its disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on the war in Ukraine. 
  • The Council adopted relevant addenda and amendments to the Statute on the government of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, indicating full independence and autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 
  • The Council also approved resolutions of the Councils of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the decisions of the Holy Synods of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which have taken place since the last Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (8 July 2011).
  • The Council endorses the activities of the Administration and Synodal offices of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 
  • The Council has had a reflection on the renewal of the chrism-making in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 
  • For the period of martial law, when the relations between the eparchies and the Church governing centre are complicated or absent, the Council considers it appropriate to empower eparchial bishops to make independent decisions on various issues of eparchial life, which fall within the competence of the Holy Synod or the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, followed by informing the clergy if possible.
  • Recently, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been faced with a new pastoral challenge. During the three months of the war, more than 6 million Ukrainian citizens have been forced to leave the country. These are mainly Ukrainians from the southern, eastern and central regions of Ukraine. A large number of them are the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Therefore, the Kyiv Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is receiving requests from various countries to open Ukrainian Orthodox parishes. Obviously, many of our compatriots will return to their Homeland, but quite many will remain for permanent residence abroad. In this connection, the Council expresses its deep conviction that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church cannot leave its faithful without spiritual care, must stand beside them in their trials and establish church communities in the diaspora. 
  • Aware of its special responsibility before God, the Council deeply regrets the lack of unity in Ukrainian Orthodoxy. The existence of the schism is seen by the Council as a deep, painful wound in the body of the Church. It is especially unfortunate that the recent actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Ukraine, which resulted in the formation of the "Orthodox Church of Ukraine", have only deepened the misunderstanding and led to physical confrontation. But even in such crisis circumstances, the Council does not lose hope for resuming dialogue. For dialogue to take place, the representatives of the OCU need to:
  1. Stop seizing churches and forcibly transferring parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
  2. Realize that their canonical status, as enshrined in the "Statute of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine", is in fact non-autocephalous and far inferior to the freedoms and opportunities for church activities that are provided by the Statute for the government of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
  3. Resolve the issue of canonicity of the OCU hierarchy, because for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as for most of the Local Orthodox Churches, it is quite clear that for the recognition of canonicity of the OCU hierarchy it is necessary to restore the apostolic succession of its bishops. 
  • The Council expresses its deep conviction that the key to the success of the dialogue must be not only a desire for the restoration of ecclesiastical unity but also a sincere aspiration to build one's life on the basis of Christian conscience and moral purity.

Summing up the work done, the Council offers a thanksgiving prayer to the Merciful Lord for the possibility of fraternal communion and expresses hope for an end to the war and reconciliation of the warring parties. In the words of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, may "grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love" (2 John 1:3) be with all of us, especially the brothers and sisters in the Risen Christ. 

As reported, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church spoke about the scale of losses that the church suffers from the war.

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