Patriarch Bartholomew pledged to establish contacts between Ukrainian schismatics and autocephalous Churches

Istanbul, March 12, 2019

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The agreement on cooperation and interaction between Ukraine and the Patriarchate of Constantinople, signed by President Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew on November 3 in Istanbul, has finally been published by Ukrainian News after being illegally withheld by the presidential administration for four months.

The agreement shows that Poroshenko promised to transfer various properties to Constantinople’s usage in return for the tomos of autocephaly granted on January 6. In addition, the newly-published document shows that Patriarch Bartholomew promised to establish contacts between the autocephalous Local Churches and the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

According to Ukrainian law, all documents officially signed by the President are to be made available to the public within 5 business days, but the administration withheld the given agreement for months, claiming that Poroshenko had signed it as a private citizen, though the document itself shows that that is not the case.

The Phanar’s obligation to establish contacts between the canonical Churches and the schismatic Ukrainians is spelled out in the agreement. Not only did Pat. Bartholomew commit to establishing inter-Church contacts, but also to promoting “active cooperation and dialogue with the leaders and authorized representatives of all centers of Ukrainian Orthodoxy.”

The Patriarch declares in the statement that he “loves the Slavs and values their devotion,” though he and others from Constantinople have elsewhere made it clear that they believe that non-Greeks are of lesser importance in the Church. “Our Slavic brothers cannot tolerate the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our nation in Orthodoxy,” the Patriarch said in October, attacking the Russian Church.

“We can only regret that His Holiness so imagines the importance of the ethnic factor in the Church,” Archpriest Nikolai Balashov of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations commented at the time.

Soon after the creation of the new Ukrainian nationalist church on December 15 and even before the granting of autocephaly to it on January 6, Pat. Bartholomew began to uphold his side of the agreement by writing to all the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches, calling on them to recognize the results of the “unification council” and to begin commemorating “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko at the Divine services.

However, to date, no primate or Holy Synod has heeded Pat. Bartholomew’s call, and several have explicitly rejected it and declared that they will have nothing to do with the Ukrainian schismatics.

Moreover, the Holy Synods, primates, and/or hierarchs of every Local Church have stated many times that the path to resolving the Ukrainian crisis and thus establishing contacts with the currently schismatic church is to convene a pan-Orthodox council. However, despite his pledge to establish contacts, Pat. Bartholomew has continually refused to discuss the issue either with the Moscow Patriarchate or at a pan-Orthodox council.

He responded to the Albanian Church that there can be no discussion, but that “it is up to you to realize the truths that have been spoken, not to ratify them,” reports Romfea.

The agreement does contain a clause on the possible termination of the contract and, accordingly, the cancelation of all agreements by prior written consent.

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