Kiev, January 15, 2021
According to a recent report from the pro-Constantinople Orthodox Times outlet, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” recently stated on Ukrainian television that several Local Churches are on the way to recognizing his OCU.
He mainly referred to the Georgian Church, where, according to him, a majority of the bishops are in favor of recognizing the schismatics, but he also mentioned the Churches of Jerusalem, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania, indicating that they could follow the example of the Cypriot Church, where the primate unilaterally declared recognition and the Synod chose to passively accept his decision.
It is worth noting that, according to Dumenko, only two or three Cypriot hierarchs disagreed with the primate’s decision, although, in fact, 7 Synodal hierarchs, including the most authoritative hierarchs of the Cypriot Church stood against it, while 9 voted in favor of not protesting the Archbishop’s decision.
And, at least in the case of the Romanian Church, the “metropolitan’s” assertion seems to be groundless.
OrthoChristian contacted Fr. Michael Tiţa, the personal advisor to His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania on foreign and inter-Church relations, to inquire about Dumenko’s statement and the Romanian Church’s current stance towards the OCU.
Fr. Michael responded:
I do not know what facts Metropolitan Epifaniy of the OCU bases his assertion on regarding the future relations of the OCU with the Romanian Orthodox Church. The position of our Church is, until now, as far as I know, the one expressed in its earlier decision.
The link then provided by Fr. Michael refers to the Synod’s decision of October 25, 2018, where it “reiterates its recommendation of May 24, 2018 for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate to arrive at a solution together, while preserving unity of faith and administrative-pastoral freedom, the latter representing a characteristic feature of Orthodoxy.”
The hierarchs continued: “The Holy Synod also underlines the fact that unity is preserved through co-responsibility and cooperation between the Local Orthodox Churches, by cultivating dialogue and synodality at the pan-Orthodox level, this being a permanent necessity in the life of the Church. The unity of the Church is a holy gift of God, but also a great responsibility of the hierarchs, clergy, and loyal believers.”
OrthoChristian also contacted Fr. Michael last year when there were rumors that Pat. Daniel was already commemorating Epiphany Dumenko in the Liturgy. The Patriarchal advisor responded at that time:
A decision regarding this new church in the Orthodox world and all its implications will have to be taken by the entire Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and not by only one person, even if that person is the primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Unfortunately, since then, the Patriarch of Alexandria and Archbishop of Cyprus have set the disastrous precedent of making just such a decision on their own, without their Holy Synods.
OrthoChristian is also awaiting a response on the matter from the Georgian Patriarchate’s Foreign Affairs Department and a member of the Bulgarian Holy Synod.