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St. Sophia's Cathedral and talks about provocations amid unification of Ukrainian church

Author : Yaroslav Konoshchuk

Source : 112 Ukraine

The Unification Assembly to create a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be held in the Saint Sophia's Cathedral of Kyiv On December 15
17:32, 14 December 2018

Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate
Press-service of the Cabinet of Ministers

The Unification Assembly to create a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be held in the Saint Sophia's Cathedral of Kyiv On December 15. The Unified Church will include the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and some of the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate. The head of the Unified Church will have to be elected. 112.ua will remind you the main things before tomorrow's Assembly.

Ukraine has already tried to get Tomos for its church. However, 10 years ago, during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, negotiations ended with no result. A new attempt was made during the presidency of Petro Poroshenko. In the spring, the parliament supported an appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the autocephaly. The head of state himself expressed confidence that we will receive Tomos in late July. However, no Tomos were given to us even in late August, although the issue was agreed upon.

On October 11, 2018, the Synod of the Patriarch of Constantinople confirmed the provision of Tomos to the head of the newly formed Ukraine’s Orthodox Church, which will be subject to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

However, within the country, the unification is not moving that smoothly. The struggle for the position of the head of the new church began. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate announced their intention to nominate Patriarch Filaret for this post. Among the candidates for office are the Metropolitan of Vinnytsia and Bratslav - Simeon, as well as the closest to Filaret patriarchal deputy Epiphanius and the Metropolitan of Lutsk and Volyn Mykhail.

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Concerning the race for position, 112.ua sources in church consider it most likely that Filaret "will give way to the young," but will retain influence on the processes in the new church. This church will become the largest in the number of parishioners and clergy in the country. According to our interlocutors, the most suitable candidate for him in case his non-participation in the elections is the Epiphanius. However, Father Mykhail has substantial support. It is believed that his candidacy is also supported by a part of the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate ready to take part in the Assembly.

The issue of the statute of the new church is not completely resolved yet. The UOC and the UAOC for a long time could not agree on this issue, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate prepared a draft statute of the new church. According to the media, in accordance with the proposed draft statute, the church will not be completely independent. Thus, it is assumed that the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will have the right of appeal to the Synod of the new church. According to the Statute, the church will also be able to canonize the saints, but they will be considered as such only in its territory. The Constantinople has to approve this decision for world-wide recognition. The head of the church, in accordance with the proposals, will be the Metropolitan, and the church cannot open the parish abroad. As for the procedure for electing the future head of a new church, it is assumed that the voting on this issue will be held in closed mode. However, the members of the Assembly do not have unanimity regarding both the statute or the election procedure.   

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Thus Patriarch Filaret, one of potential candidates for the office of the head of the new church, speaks out against electing the head by secret ballot, as the Ecumenical Patriarchate requires. He also believes that the new assembly shall be purely episcopal. Off-the-record, Filaret speaks out for larger independency of the new Orthodox church in comparison to the independency offered by Constantinople. Officially, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate note that all the disputes “will be solved during the assembly”.

According to the results of the assembly, the new orthodox church will be created. It will be based on three churches:

- the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate;

- Ukrainian autocephalous church;

- a part of clergy of Moscow Patriarchate.

According to the sources of 112.ua among religious circles, wide presence of clerks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate is one of the requests of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Constantinople’s Fener expects up to 15% of Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate. However, there were only three priests from this church present at the November meeting of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate.

The leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate states that they shall not bless their clerks participate in the Unification Assembly. Taking into account the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Tomos, it cannot be ruled out that the participants of the assembly from this church will be degraded from the priesthood.

One way or another, the priests from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate and Ukrainian autocephalous church shall constitute the majority of the assembly.

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