30 June 2016

The Pan-Orthodox Council, which was concluded on 24 June this year on Crete, adopted a decision "On Autonomy and the Means of Proclaiming It", among a number of important decisions regulating the life of the Church.

In fact, it has been recognized that a Church can gain autonomy, as well as autocephaly, only with the consent of the Principal Church (Mother Church). This provision has put an end to insinuations that were actively promoted by individual heresiarchs, and some narrow-minded politicians, and demagogues in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Orthodoxy is based on the fact that the Mother Church for Orthodox believers in Ukraine is the Russian Orthodox Church, with which the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) has coexisted in canonical unity for centuries.

The second point is that in 1990, the Mother Church granted autonomy to the UOC. The question of granting autonomy or autocephaly to other unions of believers by the Russian Orthodox Church is not on the agenda.

In fact, the Pan-Orthodox Council acknowledged that Ukraine has the only canonical church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, led by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy, and any attempts to revisit its canonicity in favour of other religious groups would not be welcomed by the Orthodox world.

This position is the answer to the undertaking by two hundred and forty-five People’s Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, grossly detrimental to the religious sphere, violating the Constitution of Ukraine, as well as standing on the side of schismatics and heretics.

What has been demonstrated by the Verkhovna Rada is an overt and bungling political manoeuvring that was rebuffed by the Pan-Orthodox Council. I am confident that decisions by the Pan-Orthodox Council will close the issue of granting autonomy or autocephaly to the "Church of Filaret" and reduce the degree of passion in religious disputes. Then inter-church peace and harmony among believers will return to Ukraine. The main outcome for Ukraine is simple. Contrary to the wishes of individual heretics and unscrupulous politicians, all sound forces of the country should be aimed at the restoration of the nation’s unity and at sewing together what has been torn, at overcoming the split in minds and hearts. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has addressed itself to this good cause.

A few days ago, Metropolitan Onufriy blessed a nationwide procession that set out from the Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra in the west of the country and the Holy Sviatogorskaya Lavra in the east. He called on all those faithful to the Orthodox Church to join the procession and to come to Kiev to reaffirm their commitment to the cause of peace.

Thus, by example, the Orthodox Church has shown the way to peace and unity in Ukraine in the hope that this would lead to the revival of the country and its continued development.

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