Kharkov, Ukraine, December 11, 2018
Although Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced on December 5 that Constantinople’s so-called “unification council” will be held on December 15, the preparations for the council are being conducted in complete secrecy and neither the bishops nor the priests know anything about it, “Archbishop” Athanasy Shkurupy of Kharkov and Poltava of the Constantinople jurisdiction of the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC) explained last week.
The schismatic hierarch also worries that the whole thing will simply end in a fight.
Speaking on air on the Ukrainian channel ZIK, Athanasy stated, “I didn’t learn from Church sources that the unification council of Ukrainian churches is to be held on December 15. The problem is that the whole process of preparing the council and receiving the tomos is happening in complete secrecy.”
According to the UAOC hierarch, neither the bishops nor priests know anything about who is negotiating and what issues are being discussed. He also expressed surprise that the date of the “council” was announced by Poroshenko rather than through Church means, such as the commission that was created by the unifying parties.
“The council should be dealt with by a commission discussing all aspects of the unification—the conditions, the charter, the date. Therefore, we, the churchmen, will be gathered on December 15 in complete ignorance, where we will approve the charter, the content of which we know nothing,” Athanasy explained.
He believes that such an important and crucial issue for Ukraine should be prepared for seriously, and that people who have devoted many years to serving God should be respected.
“Who do they take me, a bishop and an experienced person who has lived for 64 years, for? How can they be so dismissive of me?” the UAOC hierarch asked with exasperation.
“It’s necessary to unify, to form a new church, but it should be done correctly. That is, as it happens in the world, starting with the negotiation process, so it doesn’t just all ‘tear at the seams’ the next day. So let’s see what will happen next… I am afraid all this will end with us gathering, quarreling, and dispersing,” Athanasy lamented.
The same UAOC hierarch earlier lamented that no work was being done to prepare for the council, as has the UAOC primate Makary Maletich, who attributes the standstill to the stubbornness of Philaret Denisenko, the head of the schismatic Constantinople jurisdiction of the “Kiev Patriarchate,” and that Constantinople’s Exarch bishops were rushing the process.
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