DECR UOC commentary on the decision made by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to accept for consideration the issue regarding bestowal of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine

On April 22, 2018, the official website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate published a press release about the conclusion of the regular session of the Holy and Sacred Synod.

The Holy and Sacred Synod, under the chairmanship of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, concluded its regular session, which took place between Thursday, April 19th, and Friday, April 20th. All the items on the agenda were reviewed and discussed and the appropriate decisions were made.

In accordance with the Divine and Sacred Canons, as well as centuries-old ecclesiastical order and Holy Tradition, the Ecumenical Patriarchate concerns itself with the preservation of Pan-Orthodox unity and the care for the Orthodox Churches throughout the world—especially of the Ukrainian Orthodox Nation that has received the salvific Christian faith and holy baptism from Constantinople. Thus, as its true Mother Church, it examined matters pertaining to the ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine, as done in previous synodal sessions, and having received from ecclesiastical and civil authorities—representing millions of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians — a petition that requests the bestowal of autocephaly, decided to closely communicate and coordinate with its sister Orthodox Churches concerning this matter.

At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the 22nd of April, 2018.

From the Chief Secretariat.

A link to the Greek original is HERE.

Thus, in connection with the theme of autocephaly, which we have been hearing so much about in the Ukrainian mass media of late, the following conclusions can be drawn from this message:

  1. Since the Patriarchate of Constantinople, not only in this text but in many other official texts, emphasizes that it positions itself as a Church bearing “responsibility for the preservation of Pan-Orthodox unity”, this means that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will not take any steps that would undermine such unity.
  1. The Patriarchate of Constantinople makes it clear that the consideration of this issue will take place in close communication with all the other Local Orthodox Churches in the world and in agreement with the above-mentioned Churches. This moment is obvious and self-evident, since any new possible autocephalous Church must be accepted into prayerful and Eucharistic communion by all the Local Orthodox Churches collectively. Thus, there is reason to believe that visitations by representatives from the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate to the various Local Orthodox Churches may commence in the not too distant future. We remind you that neither of these Churches recognises the “UOC-KP” and “UAOC” as being full-fledged canonical Churches and hence do not concelebrate services with them. Therefore, if we talk about Ukrainian autocephaly, then this question cannot be considered without the participation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, being the only canonical Church in Ukraine.
  1. The text in the communiqué mentioning the millions of Orthodox Ukrainians, on whose behalf the representatives of the UOC-KP and UAOC allegedly act, does not reflect the position of the millions of believers represented by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is the largest religious group in Ukraine.

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