Athens, October 12, 2019
The press committee of the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Orthodox Church has published its communiqué regarding today’s decision to recognize the autocephaly of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
The message relates that in his report read out to the hierarchs today, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece noted that the two commissions created by the Greek Holy Synod to examine the Ukrainian issue concluded that there were no canonical obstacles to recognizing the OCU.
Abp. Ieronymos also repeated the historical fiction that the Metropolis of Kiev has always canonically belonged to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Moreover, the Greek primate made the bizarre claim that the granting of autocephaly to the OCU will somehow strengthen relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the OCU, and thus the autocephaly should be recognized.
The Council’s communiqué reads in full:
Today, on Saturday October 12, 2019, the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Orthodox Church, under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, convened in an extraordinary session in the hall of the Bishops’ Councils.
Before the meeting, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the cathedral of the Monastery of the Bodiless Powers in Petraki. At about 9 in the morning, in the large hall of conciliar sessions, the rite of the beginning of the work of the Bishops’ Council was celebrated. A list of the hierarchs was read and a quorum was recorded.
After that, a press committee was formed, including the Most Reverend Metropolitans: Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agios Vlasios, Dorotheos of Syros, Tinos, Andros, Kea, and Milos, and Chrysostomos of Patras.
According to the agenda, His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece gave a report on the topic, “The Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine.”
In the preface of this report, His Beatitude said that the Holy Synod had especially examined this issue at a sufficient number of its sessions, referring it to the competent Synodal commissions: the commission on dogmatic and canonical issues and the commission on inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian relations, to jointly report back to the Holy Synod in due course.
On August 13, the aforementioned commissions submitted their joint conclusion and recommendation to the Secretariat under the title, “The Question of the Canonical Jurisdiction of the Holy Metropolis of Kiev.”
The commission, having formulated five key canonical theses, came to the following conclusion: “On the basis of all the above, having considered the topic of the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine from the canonical point of view, but also legal, we piously report that there are no obstacles to recognizing the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine and the complete harmonization and coordination of the Church of Greece with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
After that, His Beatitude briefly referred to the institution of synodal administration and the administrative organization of the Church, and also to the institution of autocephaly. He noted that the Church of Ukraine always remained in the canonical ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which renounced its canonical jurisdiction so it [the Church of Ukraine] could enter the community of autocephalous Orthodox Churches. The Patriarchate of Moscow denounced this action as non-canonical, as if it [Ukraine] canonically belonged to it.
Finally, characterizing the proclamation of the ecclesiastical autocephaly of Ukraine as extremely useful for the Orthodox Church and valuable for strengthening relations between the two autocephalous sister Churches of Great Russia and Ukraine, he [Abp. Ieronymos] proposed “that our Church recognize the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of the independent republic of Ukraine.”
This was followed by a constructive dialogue and expression of the position of many reverend hierarchs, and the Bishops’ Council decided to ratify the decision of the previous Holy Synod and His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece’s proposal, namely: to recognize the “canonical right of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant autocephaly, as well as the privilege of the primate of the Church of Greece to further deal with the issue of the recognition of the Church of Ukraine,” while seven metropolitans asked for a postponement in making a decision.