Kiev, March 19, 2020
While the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as the first among equals, is meant to serve as a guarantor of Orthodox unity, the biggest problem facing the Orthodox Church in fact comes from Constantinople, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church believes.
The Synod met yesterday at the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Church in Ukraine.
Among other things, the Synod heard a report from Met. Onuphry about his recent trip to Amman, Jordan to take part in the meeting of primates and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches organized by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The members of the Synod noted the importance of the meeting as a first step towards resolving the crisis facing the Orthodox world today.
Moreover, “The Synod stated that the main problem for Orthodoxy today is the erroneous ecclesiology of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, resulting, in particular, in the non-canonical actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine.”
“The Synod also noted the urgent need for world Orthodoxy to resolve the Ukrainian Church issue,” the report reads.
The Amman gathering was attended by the primates of the Churches of Jerusalem, Moscow, Serbia, and the Czech Lands and Slovakia and representatives of the Churches of Romani and Poland, while several primates—of Alexandria, Cyprus, Greece, and Albania—rejected the invitation of their brother primate His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem precisely because of the ecclesiology of Constantinople, which posits that only the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right to gather bishops to address issues facing the Church.
Concerning Ukraine, the press release from the fraternal gathering in Amman stated that “the participants also recognised that a pan-Orthodox dialogue is necessary for healing and reconciliation.” Met. Onuphry later stated that he had hoped for more concrete decisions from the gathering.
In his presentation at the Amman gathering, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow also pinpointed what he views as the 6 most acute problems facing the Church today, all of which stem from the ecclesiology of Constantinople:
“1. The problem of understanding primacy in the Church; attempts to justify the claims to universal leadership through specially created theological argumentation; the absence of a system of conciliar control over the actions of the primatial see, the need for consensus in decision-making on the pan-Orthodox scale.
2. The threat to the institute of autocephaly in the Church; the lack of a common Orthodox mechanism, indisputable for all, of granting autocephaly; attempts to introduce inequality among “senior” and “minor” autocephalous Churches.
3. Attempts to challenge the canonical boundaries of autocephalous Churches, to review and revoke the once adopted documents of historic importance defining these boundaries.
4. The claims of the first among equals in the family of Local Orthodox Churches to a right to receive appeals from any Church, the threats to use these appeals as an instrument of interference in the internal life of other Local Churches, which, I believe, demand comprehension and discussion.
5. The development of an abnormal situation in which the primatial hierarch, contrary to the basic principles of canon law, acts as a judge in a matter in which he is one of the sides and presents himself as the last instance in considering the matter, and
6. The problem of creating the so called ‘stavropegial structures’ in the territories of other Local Churches without their consent or against their will.’”
Pat. Kirill’s last point concerns the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s present attempts to establish a monastery-association in the Czech Republic without the consent of the Holy Synod of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.