A delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) met Saturday with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at his residence in Constantinople, where they held a five-hour meeting regarding the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church.
Four members of the Standing Holy Synod of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) went to the Phanar to discuss the initiatives made for the issuing of the tomos of autocephaly and to report the UOC stance on this matter.
The Ukrainian Bishops presented the current situation of the church life in Ukraine to His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Participants in the meeting
The UOC delegation included Metropolitan Agathangel of Odessa and Izmail, Metropolitan Ilarion of Donetsk and Mariopolsk, Metropolitan Theodor of Kamenets-Podolsk and Gorodok, and Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary.
As reported by the Ukrainian Church on their website, the meeting was attended by Protopresbyter Nikolai Danilevic, vice-president of the UOC Department for External Church Relations, and Vadim Novinsky, deputy of Ukrainian Rada.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate was represented by Metropolitan John of Pergamom, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Metropolitan Bartholomew of Smyrna, Archimandrite Bessarion Komzias, and Archimandrite Ambrosios Chorozides.
Invitation to Kiev
During the meeting, the Ecumenical Patriarch received the official invitation of HB Metropolitan Onuphry to appoint a representative to attend the festivities in honour of the 1030th anniversary of the Christianization of Rus that will take place at the end of July, and which will be attended by representatives of all local Orthodox Churches.
The communique states that the talks took place in an ‘open, constructive and fraternal’ atmosphere.
After the five-hour meeting, statements were given to Ukrainian journalists present at the event.
Useful, constructive talk
Metropolitan Emmanuel of France declared that ‘it has been a very useful and constructive talk, during which we exchanged views on the issue of the Ukrainian Church, which we are all worried about.’
Metropolitan Emmanuel stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has never ceased and continues to be interested in the healing of the church problem existing in Ukraine, for the establishment of peace, reconciliation and the cooperation of all for its benefit.
Dialogue, the way to solve Ukrainian problem
‘We are convinced that we can all together cooperate and can make a common contribution to the benefit of Ukraine and to solve this problem.’
‘Today’s talk was a blessed moment for us and we believe that in this communion and in constant dialogue we will achieve a common goal for the benefit of the entire Orthodox Church,’ Greek Metropolitan of France said Saturday to Ukrainian journalists.
Schism must be healed
In turn, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil referred to the meeting noting that ‘it was long and sincere, everyone exposed their vision of the situation in Ukraine and not only, because schisms exist not only in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but also in many local Orthodox Churches, and we should find ways to heal schism.’
‘Several times we have talked about the impossibility of legalizing schism and the need to heal it. Figuratively speaking, sometimes medicines do not help, and we are now looking for what will help to unite our brothers, who have long been outside the Church, and we see the wish of the Patriarch of Constantinople, from the Church that we received Baptism, to help us in this regard.’
Ecumenical Patriarch wishes to help
‘His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew said that he does not want to interfere in this situation, but that he wants to help as a responsible person and the first among the equal hierarchs of the entire Orthodox world to solve this very complex issue,’ Metropolitan Anthony told journalists after the meeting on Saturday, 23 June 2018.
‘For the moment no one knows how this issue can be solved, since it is very complex, but we must do everything for our brothers and compatriots who are in schism to return to the Orthodox Church,’ the Metropolitan of Boryspil added.
Initiatives for Ukrainian autocephaly
Several initiatives have been made lately by the Kiev state authorities and two non-canonical ecclesiastical structures for the establishment of a single local Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
Currently, only one canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church is recognized at international level, namely the ecclesiastical body under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Until present, several Autocephalous Orthodox Churches have expressed their support for the canonical UOC – MP, but talks on autocephaly still continue.