Constantinople has no right to send exarchs to Ukraine—Met. Onuphry

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is living in the past, the Ukrainian primate stated.

Kiev, September 14, 2018

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The Ecumenical Patriarchate has neither the moral nor canonical right to interfere in Ukrainian affairs and send his exarchs there, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine commented in an exclusive interview posted on the site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church this morning.

It was earlier reported that “within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has appointed as its Exarchs in Kiev His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon from the United States, and His Grace Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton from Canada, both of whom are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia announced at the Russian Orthodox Holy Synod session today that the exarchs have already arrived in Kiev, Met. Onuphry’s canonical territory, and have begun their work.

This incursion into the Ukrainian Church’s territory has been strongly condemned by the Russian Holy Synod, and those of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Belarusian Orthodox Church—faithful bodies within the Russian Orthodox Church.

“The Patriarch of Constantinople has sent two of his exarchs to Ukraine. This is an anti-canonical, that is, a non-canonical action of the Church of Constantinople,” Met. Onuphry said. “It has no right to send its legates to our independent Church… It has neither the moral nor canonical right to interfere in Ukrainian affairs,” His Beatitude continued.

Further, the Ukrainian hierarch explained that the granting of autocephaly to a new Ukrainian Church would in fact restrict the great degree of freedom that that canonical Ukrainian Church already enjoys: “We have our own Synod, we have our own Bishops’ Council, we have our own ecclesiastical court—we have everything… A tomos would be the restriction of the freedom we have; we don’t need it… We have all the attributes of a free life for our successful spiritual service to the people.”

The Ukrainian Church was granted this autonomous status by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church in 1990, and at last November-December’s session of the Council of Bishops, the statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church were amended to more accurately reflect this reality, specifying that that the center of administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is located in Kiev.

In June, the entire Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church declared that their current canonical status is quite sufficient to carry out their evangelical duties.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Ukrainian primate commented, “It was once a powerful Church that covered the entire civilized world… The Byzantine Empire covered the world, and the Church was equivalent to the empire. But that empire does not exist today. They are living in the past.”

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