Announcement on granting of autocephaly, date of “unification council” expected tomorrow, says Poroshenko advisor

Constantinople, November 28, 2018

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An official announcement from the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the granting of a tomos of autocephaly to Ukraine and the date of the “unification council” will be made tomorrow at the end of the current session of the Holy Synod, says Rostislav Pavlenko, the advisor to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who is attending the Synod meetings.

“On Thursday, November 29, after the completion of the Synod, there will be an official message that will be the final point in this process,” Pavlenko told reporters in Constantinople on Tuesday, reports Interfax-Ukraine.

He also noted that the “unification council,” where Constantinople intends to create a new church out of Ukraine’s two schismatic groups, will be held in December. The council will elect a primate for the new church, as he explained, who will then go to Constantinople to receive a tomos of autocephaly.

Regarding the text of the tomos itself, Pavlenko spoke somewhat more tentatively. In an interview with Ukrainian television channel Live, he stated: “If all goes according to plan and there will be no changes, then the text of the tomos will be approved by decision of the Synod on November 29.”

Pavlenko also noted that the text of the tomos is fairly standard: “This tomos is quite standard—you can find similar ones on the internet.”

Conversely, in May, Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, the former head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, declared that the text of the tomos was already written and that it was a marvel:

The tomos is already ready. It’s already written. I even know who wrote it—my teacher from the Athens University where I studied wrote it. He is one of the best canonists in the Orthodox world… The texts he writes are canonical—they are absolutely perfect. Therefore, I think that the tomos will be a beautiful document of canonicity. It will be impossible to make any claims against it. The tomos is ready.

And Pavlenko added: “The main idea is to declare an independent church from the moment of the presentation [of the tomos—OC], and no one, including the Ecumenical Patriarch can interfere in the internal affairs of this church. This church will be equal to all the others.”

However, numerous voices both within and without the Patriarchate of Constantinople have reported the opposite—that the new church will be given a kind of “half-autocephaly,” which is actually the case for several other Churches that have received autocephaly from Constantinople.

It is commonly suggested that Archbishop Job (Getcha) or Archbishop Daniel (Zelinsky), both of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, will become the head of the new church. Moreover, many, such as the Ukrainian religious scholar Alexei Smirnov, have suggested precisely that the tomos will allow for special rights of Constantinople in the new church, including its role as a higher court for the new church, and that the new church will receive Chrism from Constantinople.

Such limited autocephalies are the case with the Greek, Polish, and Czech-Slovak Churches, and others, that received their “independence” from Constantinople.

Moreover, Ukrainian media, such as and the Union of Orthodox Journalists, are widely reporting that the tomos will grant 20 church buildings to Constantinople to serve as its representation churches. St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev has already been handed over to Constantinople by the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.”

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