Kiev, January 11, 2019
Some of the Local Orthodox Churches will need time to officially recognize and accept the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” but the process will begin soon with the Greek and Romanian Churches believes Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia, one of the two Constantinople Exarchs to Kiev who helped to prepare December 15’s “unification council.”
Asked in an interview with the BBC when the first recognition will take place, Abp. Daniel answered: “I think it will take a month and a half. The current Greek and Romanian Churches will be among the first, and from there the process will move along.”
The Greek Holy Synod recently discussed the matter but referred it on to the broader Bishops’ Council to make a decision.
“The Russian Orthodox Church refuses to recognize it,” the Constantinople hierarch noted, “and this is understandable.”
“The Serbian, Polish, and Antiochian Churches are the three structures that will take time to work out the recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” he said, hitting on 3 of the 4 Churches that have thus far rejected the new Ukrainian structure (the Cypriot Church being the fourth).
And framing the issue as one of alliances rather than of Orthodoxy, Abp. Daniel added: “Of course, the Serbian and Antiochian Churches are dependent on the ROC.”
Despite Constantinople’s framing of the issue, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia recently stated in an interview that the Serbian Church is neither for Moscow nor for Constantinople, but stands for the canons of the Church, and His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Poland has expressed a similar sentiment.
Abp. Daniel expressed more optimism about working with the Polish Church though: “It’s rhetoric will change, and it will realize its historical place in the bosom of the Church of Christ and Constantinople.”
This statement perhaps comes against the background of the Polish Church’s own autocephaly granted by Constantinople in 1924 which relied on the same historical revisionism as put forth in the current situation—that the Kiev Metropolia, which included Poland in the 17th century—was never truly transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate. The Polish Church was part of the Russian Church when Constantinople suddenly decided to grant it autocephaly.
Asked how long the entire process of recognition would take, Abp. Daniel expressed his belief that it is a matter of months, not years, and that the Greek and Romanian Churches will be the first to recognize “Metropolitan” Epiphany and his “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” noting that Epiphany has already sent letters to the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches announcing his election as primate.
Abp. Daniel also said that Constantinople will not place any kind of sanctions on Churches that do not recognize the new Ukrainian structure, but will work with them to explain why they should recognize it.
“I don't foresee big problems here. I think we will find mutual understanding with the Serbian and Antiochian Churches, we need only a little time. In these regions, certain political conditions have been created, so it will take time to work with them,” Abp. Daniel said, concluding that portion of the interview.
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