Kiev, December 14, 2018
The Patriarchate of Constantinople has encroached upon the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church again, this time with Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton celebrating the Divine Liturgy yesterday in Kiev’ St. Andrew’s Church without the blessing of the canonical presiding hierarch, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
The service was also attended by Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul, of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who will officiate tomorrow’s “unification council,” and about 50 others—mostly journalists and government representatives, reports the Ukrainian site the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
Bp. Ilarion is one of two Exarchs appointed to Kiev by Constantinople to negotiate with the two Ukrainian schismatic groups towards creating a new parallel church structure in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Church strongly protested their appointment, and the Holy Synod of the Russian Church, of which Met. Onuphry has the honor of being a permanent member, resolved at that time to suspend commemoration of Patriarch Bartholomew in the services and to suspend hierarchical concelebrations between the two patriarchates.
Constantinople again violated the canonical rights and privileges of the Ukrainian and Russian Churches by receiving the anathematized and sanctioned schismatics into communion and by declaring all of Ukraine its canonical territory on October 11. The Russian Church responded by severing communion with Constantinople, which has been reaffirmed by both the Bishops’ Council and Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has released a statement in regard to this latest canonical violation and provocation, which reads in full:
Recall that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church does not recognize the expansion of the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople onto the territory of Ukraine, as witnessed to by the Resolutions of the Bishops’ Council of the UOC on 11/13/2018, and also the decision of the Holy Synod of the UOC on 12/7/2918 (Log No. 41). Thus, the mentioned actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in general and the actions of Bishop Ilarion in particular should be regarded as anti-canonical and leading to a deepening of the conflict.
Moreover, St. Andrew’s Church belongs to the territory of the embassy of one country, that is, it’s not an embassy church to which the principle of extra-territoriality can be applied. Also, this church historically never belonged to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Despite the fact that the church belongs to the state, its use for liturgical purposes by representatives of other Local Orthodox Churches should be regulated by Church canons, and not just by agreements with the state authorities.
The celebration of any service, as well as other actions, by any hierarch on the canonical territory of another diocese with the permission of the local bishop is strictly forbidden by a number of canonical rules. His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry is the canonical bishop of Kiev and possesses the fullness of hierarchical authority. Therefore, even if we accept the view of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, that Ukraine is supposedly now its canonical territory, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine remains, and Patriarch Bartholomew himself recognizes him, as the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev. That means, even from the point of view of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s canonical logic, the unauthorized celebration of the Liturgy by a hierarch of this Church in Kiev today should be qualified as an unambiguous violation of the canons and order of Church life.
St. Andrew’s Church is officially owned by the government as a museum but had been given to the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” for liturgical usage, and was its central church. In October, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to take it away from the UAOC and give it to Constantinople, which the UAOC leader, Makary Maletich, later said he regretted.
The text of Pat. Bartholomew’s October 12 letter to Met. Onuphry recently became known, in which the Turkish hierarch informs Met. Onuphry that he holds that title and position for now only out of economia and that following tomorrow’s “unification council” he will be considered a schismatic hierarch by Constantinople.
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