UKRAINE: Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks ties with the Moscow Patriarchate
Resolution of the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) on 27 May 2022
Ukrainian Orthodox Church (28.05.2022) – https://bit.ly/3a67ejJ – The Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (hereinafter – the Council), held on May 27, 2022 in Kyiv, considered issues of Church life that arose as a result of the military operation of the Russian Federation in Ukraine. Based on the results of the work, the Council approved the following:
- The Council condemns war as a violation of God’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill!” (Exodus 20:13) and expresses heartfelt condolences to all those who have suffered in the conflict.
- The Council appeals to the authorities of Ukraine and the authorities of the Russian Federation to continue the negotiation process and to search for a strong and sensible dialogue that could stop the bloodshed.
- We disagree with the position of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus on the war in Ukraine.
- The Council adopted appropriate amendments to the Statute with regards to the Administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), all of which testify to the full independence and autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
- The Council approves and confirms the resolutions of the Councils of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the decisions of the Holy Synods of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which met after the last Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (July 8, 2011). The Council approves the activities of the various Departments and Synodal Institutions of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
- The Council considered the restoration of the ritual of confecting Chrism in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).
- During the period of conflict, when means of communication between the eparchies and the ecclesiastical centre are complicated or become absent, the Council considered it expedient to grant eparchial bishops the right to decide on certain issues of eparchial life that is usually within the competence of the Holy Synod or the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Subsequently, when the possibility arises and upon restoration of ties to notify the ruling hierarchs.
- Recently, a new pastoral challenge that isparticularly acute for our Church has presented itself. During the three months of the conflict , more than six million Ukrainian citizens were forced to flee abroad. The Ukrainians mostly hail from the southern, eastern and central regions of Ukraine. Many of them are Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) faithful. That is why the Kyiv Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has received numerous appeals from the Ukrainian refugees currently residing in various countries with requests that Ukrainian Orthodox parishes be established. It is also obvious that many of our compatriots will return to their homeland, but many will become permanent residents in their chosen countries abroad. In this regard, the Council expresses its deep conviction that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) cannot leave its faithful without spiritual and pastoral care, and must be together with them during their current trials and tribulations , and so must help organise Ukrainian Church communities in the diaspora. It is necessary to further develop the mission abroad among Orthodox Ukrainians in order to preserve their faith, culture, language and Orthodox identity.
- Recognising the special responsibility before Almighty God, the Council expresses its deep regret over the lack of unity in Ukrainian Orthodoxy. The Council perceives the existence of the schism as a deep painful wound on the Church body. 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” (OCU) , only deepened misunderstandings and led to physical confrontation. But even in such crisis situations, the Council does not lose hope of resuming dialogue. In order for the dialogue to take place, the OCU representatives need to:
- stop the illegal seizure of churches and forced transfers of parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC),
- realise that their canonical status, as enshrined in their “Statute of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine” , is in fact non-autocephalous and significantly inferior to the freedoms and opportunities for the implementation of Church activities as compared to those that are provided for in the Statute of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC),
- resolve the issue of canonicity of the hierarchy of the OCU, because for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as for most Local Orthodox Churches, it is quite obvious that to recognise the canonicity of the hierarchy of the OCU, it is first 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 the desire to restore Church unity, but also the sincere desire to build one’s life on the principles of genuine Christian conscience and moral purity.
Summing up the results of the work done, the Council offers prayers of thanksgiving to the All-Merciful Lord, that opportunities for fraternal communication may arise and also expresses its hope than an end to the conflict and the reconciliation of opposing sides happens soon. According to the holy apostle and evangelist St. 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, be with us all, especially brothers and sisters in the Risen Christ” (2 John 1: 3).