Question of Ukrainian tomos postponed until “right time”

Constantinople, October 11, 2018

The issue of granting a tomos of autocephaly to create a new church in Ukraine has been postponed and will not be decided upon at the ongoing meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Synod’s 3-day session will come to an end today.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate will make a decision on the Ukrainian issue at a later point, His Eminence Metropolitan Arsenios (Kardamakis) of Austria and Exarch of Hungary commented, noting that the issue has been postponed until “the right time comes,” reports Deutsche Welle.

However, REGNUM is reporting that 9 out of 12 hierarchs on the Holy Synod voted in favor of granting autocephaly. No official statement has been made yet.

“We don’t want to create any new problems, but with God’s help we will proceed so that everything is peaceful,” the metropolitan added, hinting at the tensions between the Russian and Constantinopolitan Churches over the issue.

Constantinople’s exarch bishops, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton, arrived in Constantinople yesterday after several weeks in Kiev to report on their activity there and on the process of their negotiations with Ukraine’s two schismatic bodies.

Despite the postponement, the exarchs believe the schismatic factions which have been unable to unite or repent and return to the canonical Church are, in fact, ready to receive autocephaly. “I think the churches in Ukraine are ready to unite, ready for 27 years, if not several centuries. When this can happen, it is difficult to say. That's all I can say for now,” Abp. Daniel told Radio Liberty.

Constantinople’s consideration of the matter has already been postponed several times, although Ukrainian politicians and schismatics are desperate to receive the tomos before the upcoming presidential election on March 31, 2019.

Giving a lecture to the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. in September, “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” spoke about the upcoming election, highlighting the political motivation for appealing to Constantinople for autocephaly: “We want this to happen this year. Why this year? Because Moscow expects that next year, after the Ukrainian presidential elections, some pro-Russian president could come in who will not be interested in creating a united autocephalous Church, and then the issue of the tomos will be delayed until who knows when.”

At the same time, a group of Ukrainian Parliamentarian Deputies have asked His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to postpone the autocephaly decision precisely until after the upcoming election, so that the decision would not be bound up with Uniates and politicians. The deputies are also concerned about the Phanar’s lack of communication with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the issue, and called on the Ecumenical Patriarchate to call a pan-Orthodox meeting on the issue, which, as has already been reported, the patriarchate has refused to do, despite that several Synods, primates, and hierarchs have made the same call.

Philaret has also called upon the U.S. to help in bringing the autocephaly issue to a close and to protect the Ecumenical Patriarch from “attacks” from the Russian Orthodox Church, which he explained as canonical measures such as the cessation of commemoration and the breaking of communion. He did not explain how the U.S. could protect against such measures.

Updated 10/11/18, 1:16 PM to include information from REGNUM.

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