The date of delivery of Tomos was announced for a long time ago. It became known on December 13, 2018, that its handing will take place in Constantinople (Istanbul) on January 6, 2019.
Ecumenical Patriarch will hand the Tomos to the Head of Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church. And the name of the church’s head was unknown at the moment of the announcement of delivery’s date.
It was called on December 15, when the Unification Assembly took place in Kyiv. That day Metropolitan Epiphaniy headed the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate confirmed the date of Tomos handing the next day. It will take place on January 6 in Phanar (Istanbul district) on the Epiphany Day.
Metropolitan Epifaniy has already revealed the first decision, which will be made after the provision of Tomos.
“The first decision, of course, is the forming of the proper bodies as we adopted the charter at the Unification Assembly but it will be approved by Tomos so the charter is based on the norms, which are spelled out in Tomos. After the delivery of Tomos, we will become the full-fledged Autocephalous Orthodox Church recognized by the World Orthodoxy.”
We dealt with the brief chronology, so let’s move to the main topic.
What is Tomos
First of all, it is the church order. It contains the decision of the Holy Synod of Ecumenical Patriarchate on the provision of autocephaly.
But not only it. The documents, which did not concern the autocephaly, also appeared in the history. For example, Tomos of Constantinople Church dated 1180 on “God of Muhammad”.
The document is written in more solemn manner in comparison with other orders.
Tomos comes into force right after its signing by Synod members. The decision is final and irreversible.
The only possible variant of its abolition is another decision of Synod, for example, the historical circumstances have changed.
In total: Metropolitan Epiphaniy will get the document in Fener. It is still unknown how it will look like. However, the mass media reported that it will consist of three parts: Historical part, Canonical foundation and Requests.
Tomos from Dionysius IV Mouselimes on the accession of Kyiv metropolis to Moscow Patriarchate dated 1686.
Exactly this document would be abolished on October 11, 2018, by Synod of Constantinople Patriarchate.
- On June 7, 1923: Estonian Orthodox Church got Tomos from Constantinople Patriarch Meletius II.
- On November 13, 1924: Polish Orthodox Church got Tomos from Constantinople Patriarch Gregory VII.
- On April 12, 1937: autocephaly of Albanian Orthodox Church was recognized.
- On March 13, 1945: Bulgarian Orthodox Church got Tomos.
- On August 27, 1998: Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia got Tomos.
What does “local church” mean in Orthodoxy
The local church in the Orthodoxy is the independent (autocephalous) church with its own organization and structure.
In other words, it is an independent self-governing church at the particular territory. Usually, the local church is the national church at the same time and its bounds of jurisdiction coincide with the border of the national state.
Besides, the Unauthorized Autocephalous Churches exist. They do not possess the right for a vote at the international canonical arena; however, they exist in fact.
Moreover, the Autonomous Orthodox Churches should be mentioned. Such churches are subordinate to any Autocephalous Church (for example Sinai Orthodox Church is dependent from Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem).
At the same time, the Orthodoxy does not have the united church center as the Vatican in the Ecumenical Catholic Church, which is deprived of the national traits. All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople bears the title of Ecumenical Patriarch only nominally and he is just one among the equal in comparison with Bishop of Rome. This title is some kind of tribute from other Orthodox patriarchs to the “maternal” center of Orthodoxy.