Constantinople not creating autocephalous church but its own podvoriye in Ukraine, sociologist says

Kiev, October 11, 2018

The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople will not decide to grant the long-awaited tomos of autocephaly, as expected, but rather it will announce the opening of its own podvoriye, or official representation/dependency in Ukraine, sociologist, historian, and publicist Nikolay Mitrokhin writes on his Facebook page today.

Mitrokhin is also a researcher and scholar of the current situation and activities of the Russian Orthodox Church as a social and economic institution in Russia and other post-Soviet states.

He also reports that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s two exarchs, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton, were at the Church of the Savior at Berestove on Monday, which is part of the Kiev Caves Lavra complex though it lies just outside the fortifications. As the sociologist writes, the state has promised to give the church to Constantinople for services.

Mitrokhin also writes that, “Against the background of the obvious postponement of the tomos for months, the state has resumed relations with the UOC [the canonical Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate—O.C.], and Poroshenko met with Metropolitan Onuphry yesterday to encourage him to participate in the process.”

However, “The conversation ended without results.”

The canonical Church has repeatedly said that it has no interest in receiving autocephaly.

Constantinople has postponed its final consideration of the Ukrainian autocephaly question at least three times now. It was expected that the Synod would come to a decision at its current three-day session, but it has been reported that the decision on autocephaly was again delayed, possibly in favor of creating a representation presence in Kiev, as Mitrokhin writes.

It was reported as far back as February that Constantinople was talking of opening a dependency in Kiev, and perhaps another in Lvov.

In late September, a group of Ukrainian Parliamentarian Deputies appealed to Pat. Bartholomew to postpone discussion of the autocephaly question until after the presidential elections coming in March 2019, so as not to entangle the decision with politics, which, in fact, lies at the heart of the appeal for autocephaly. They also suggested that a podvoriye could be opened.

The deputies wrote, “We propose to gather a pan-Orthodox meeting, to work out the only correct approach with the Moscow Patriarchate: Either to grant autocephaly to the UOC, or to arrange a podvoriye of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the territory of Ukraine (such already exist in here, in fact), or to make another joint decision that would help heal the schism that would suit everyone and reconcile everyone in the name of salvation and for the good of Orthodoxy.”

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