Push for Ukrainian autocephaly is a political attack—Met. Hilarion of ROCOR

New York, September 19, 2018


There are political forces that want to divide Orthodox unity actively at work in Ukraine right now, Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) believes.

The ongoing attempt to grant autocephaly to schismatics in Ukraine is nothing more than dirty politics, Met. Hilarion said in an interview with RIA-Novosti: “This is a political attack of the enemy of our salvation against the unity of the Orthodox peoples of a common origin—Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, who have always been united by the Church.”

“Political forces in this world want to divide countries and weaken first of all the Russian Orthodox Church. This is due solely to political reasons, not spiritual,” the ROCOR primate emphasized.

This view has previously been put forth by hierarchs from throughout the Orthodox world. For example, His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus of the Greek Orthodox Church recently condemned what he called Ukraine’s geopolitical game between NATO and Russia.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia has also called upon Ukrainian politicians to cease interfering in ecclesiastical affairs. In May, the Holy Synod of the Polish Orthodox Church stated in regard to the Ukrainian situation: “We must not be led by the political climate in questions of dogma and the canons,” the Polish Synod concludes.”

His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia also declared in May that anyone who helps the Ukrainian schismatics is an enemy of all Orthodox Slavic peoples, and indeed, of the entire Orthodox world.

Only Ukraine’s schismatic groups petitioned for autocephaly, Met. Hilarion notes, “which will not be accepted by the canonical Churches.”

Explicit statements of support for the canonical Ukrainian Church and the Russian Orthodox Church in their struggle with schismatics have come from the Synods or primates of 11 of the world’s 15 autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Read their statements here. Only the Churches of Romania and Albania and the Orthodox Church in America have yet to make statements.

The ROCOR primate also added that the Ukrainian Church is quite free, enjoying a nearly autocephalous status—an assessment the Ukrainian Church itself and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine have expressed many times.

Met. Hilarion also expressed hope that the Russian Synod’s decision to suspend commemoration of the Ecumenical Patriarch and episcopal concelebrations, while maintaining Eucharistic communion, would have positive results: “It’s a very strong statement. I hope it will peacefully and lovingly explain to Constantinople that it cannot go further and uncanonically declare autocephaly.”

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