Ukrainian diaspora Churches under Constantinople don’t accept sainthood of Tsar Nicholas and family

Kiev, January 11, 2019

It is fine if the Russian Orthodox Church wants to venerate Tsar Nicholas II and his martyred family as saints, but the Ukrainian Church abroad does not accept this canonization, according to Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia, one of the two Constantinople Exarchs to Kiev.

The topic arose when Abp. Daniel spoke of the possibility of the new Ukrainian nationalist structure canonizing saints in a new interview with the BBC.

Note that the Ukrainian Churches in the diaspora are under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, not of the canonical Church in Ukraine.

The BBC noted that according to the statutes of the new structure, it can propose saints for canonization that must be approved and proclaimed by Constantinople, and asked: “Could hit happen that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine at some point would want to canonize, hypothetically speaking, Stepan Bandera, and Constantinople would ask: ‘Do you really want to canonize him?’”

Bandera was the head of a militant wing of the Ukrainian independence movement and a leader of the terrorist activity of Ukrainian nationalists. He is widely venerated in Ukraine today, with statues and museums in his honor all throughout the country, though he is also widely considered to have been a Nazi collaborationist and war criminal, responsible for multiple genocides. The Ukrainian Parliament recently voted to make his birthday a national holiday.

Abp. Daniel responded that not only Constantinople, but other Local Churches would also raise questions about such a canonization. As he explains, when a saint is canonized, people look at that person for a while—whether they have performed miracles, whether people are truly seeking their intercessions—and then the canonization is brought to the attention of the other Local Churches.

“Therefore, to talk about the canonization of political leaders—I think we will not go for such radical actions,” the Constantinople hierarch said, not commenting on whether or not Bandera is worthy of veneration.

The BBC then raised the example of the Russian Royal Martyrs, or Passion-Bearers, to which Abp. Daniel noted that they are not accepted by the Ukrainian diaspora:

BBC: The Russian Orthodox Church, for example, canonized Nicholas II and the entire Royal Family ...

Abp. D: And not all Churches recognized this canonization.

BBC: And is that normal?

Abp. D: For the internal veneration of the saint by the Moscow Church, it’s fine. We, the Ukrainian Church abroad, do not recognize the canonization of Nicholas II.

Tsar Nicholas II and his family were canonized as Royal Martyrs by the Russian Church Abroad in 1981 and as Royal Passion-Bearers by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000.

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