Ukraine is canonical territory of Russian Church, not Constantinople, says Jerusalem Patriarchate

Sebastia, West Bank, August 30, 2018

Archbishop Theodosios of Sebastia also called for Ukrainian politicians to stay out of Church affairs.

The Jerusalem Orthodox Church recognizes Ukraine as a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church alone, as does every other Orthodox Church in the world, Archbishop Theodosius of Sebastia of the Jerusalem Patriarchate told RIA-Novosti yesterday.

“The Orthodox Churches of the world, including Jerusalem, only recognize the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, that it is headed by Metropolitan Onuphry; he is a member of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. We support all efforts to end the schism in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—the Church is a place of love, unity, and peace, and not hatred and schism,” the Jerusalem bishop explained.

The Jerusalem Patriarchate thus rejects the recent theory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that it never ceded the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Orthodox Church. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made this claim during a homily on July 1, and several other Constantinople representatives have done so as well. However, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of the Russian Orthodox Church has noted that the archival documents from the transfer of Kiev to the Russian Church in 1685 do not support this new theory.

Abp. Theodosius therefore emphasized, that any answer from Constantinople to President Poroshenko’s appeal for autocephaly must be worked out in full coordination with Patriarch Kirill and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

“The schism in Ukraine is very unfortunate, and I hope that the Patriarch of Constantinople and the other heads of the Orthodox Churches of the world will coordinate with the Russian Orthodox Church to advance initiatives for ending this unhealthy, unacceptable, and unjustified situation,” the prelate of Sebastia said forcefully.

Moreover, he called for Ukrainian politicians to cease interfering in Church life, saying, “It is impossible to allow Ukrainian politicians to interfere in Church matters; politicians cannot impose an agenda on the Church, because the Church is not a political organization—it is an organization carrying a mission of faith to the world, and faith must be accompanied by noble morals, and human, spiritual values,” Abp. Theodosius added.

In his view, the problem in Ukrainian Orthodoxy is essentially political, due to the interference of politicians in ecclesiastical matters ever since the time of the independence of Ukraine from the USSR.

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