Athens, July 19, 2016
The Patriarchate of Constantinople has reacted to the appeal of the Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) deputies on granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, reports Interfax-Religion.
The Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople has not turned down this appeal but, instead, has charged a special synodal commission with examining it, reports the Romfea Greek Church news agency.
As was earlier reported, the Verkhovna Rada recently called upon Patriarch Bartholomew I to issue a Tomos granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine and to recognize the 1686 act, in accordance with which the Metropolitan See of Kiev was transferred to the Patriarchate of Moscow “in defiance of canons”, as invalid. However, the Patriarchate of Constantinople did not respond to that appeal.
Commenting on this initiative, the Russian Federation’s Foreign Ministry Ombudsman for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov has said that it is a transgression of the Ukrainian law and that the Venice Commission should provide an opinion on this matter. The ombudsman has also pointed to the fact that the Verkhovna Rada is promoting a number of bills that “are aimed at the ultimate legalization of taking over church buildings of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by raiders.”
There are three active Orthodox religious organizations in the Ukraine: the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP), the “Kyiv Patriarchate”, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the latter two are not recognized in the Orthodox world.
Earlier Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko more than once expressed the idea of establishing one local (autocephalous) Orthodox Church in the country. One of the goals of this initiative is to separate UOC MP from the Patriarchate of Moscow.