Kiev, March 4, 2019
The Ukrainian schismatic church, created on December 15 and given a tomos of autocephaly on January 6, has yet to be recognized as canonical by any Local Church other than the Patriarchate of Constantinople which created it.
However, the primate of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” OCU, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko said in an interview with Pravda today that his church is willing to meet the conditions laid out by the Romanian Holy Synod in its recent statement on the Ukrainian issue.
On the other hand, in a recent interview with BBC Ukraine, he rejected the possibility of its clergy being re-ordained, despite the fact that several Local Churches have expressed either the outright rejection of their clergy or serious reservations about serving with clergy who were ordained while in schism.
In particular, Epiphany considers it acceptable to create a Romanian vicariate within the OCU for the Romanian faithful living in Bukovina.
The Romanian Synod wrote that in order to make a concrete decision about the Ukrainian schismatics, priority will be given to the consideration of the 127 Romanian-language parishes in Ukraine, and that it is necessary to obtain written guarantees from the Church authorities that the Romanians’ ethnicity and language will be respected and that they will have the opportunity to organize into a Romanian vicariate and to cultivate their spiritual connection with the Romanian Patriarchate.
“Of course, we need to negotiate. This statement was just last week. We’ll discuss everything; we’re ready,” Epiphany said, noting, as did the Romanian Synod, that there is a Ukrainian vicariate within the Romanian Church. “Why shouldn’t we give Romanians the same opportunity?” he asked.
The issue will be solved, and the Romanian Church will recognize the schismatics’ autocephaly, Epiphany Dumenko is certain.
However, the schismatic head considers the re-ordination of his clergy to be impossible, although this was also something the Romanian Synod expressed concern about.
The issue of the legitimacy of ordinations celebrated by bishops of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” was resolved when the Patriarchate of Constantinople received all the clergy in their orders on October 11.
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate, which had the right do so, accepted our appeals and decided to receive us in our existing orders,” Dumenko explained. “Constantinople recognized the anathema placed upon Philaret as invalid—accordingly, everything that has happened since then (in particular, the ordinations he has performed) were recognized as valid. Moscow cannot limit the action of the grace of the Holy Spirit,” the schismatic head said.
Recall that the entire Orthodox Church, Pat. Bartholomew included, recognized and accepted the excommunication and subsequent anathematization of Philaret.
Referring to the idea of undergoing re-ordination with the participation of hierarchs from both Moscow and Constantinople as a possible compromise to resolve the situation, the schismatic head said “this is unrealistic and impossible,” and would not be accepted by the Ukrainian people.
The Serbian and Polish Churches have strongly rejected the Ukrainian schismatic church, noting precisely that its clergy are not truly ordained. The Cypriot and Romanian Churches have also highlighted the problem in their statements, and hierarchs from the Greek, Georgian, Cypriot, and Czech-Slovak Churches, have rejected the possibility of serving with un-ordained schismatics.
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