Donetsk and Crimea, May 30, 2022
Following Friday’s Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kiev, several UOC dioceses have stated that, in fact, nothing has changed for them.
The Council declared the UOC’s complete independence and autonomy in its administration and resolved to amend the Church statutes to reflect this status.
According to Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Chairman of the UOC’s Department for External Church Relations, and other sources, these changes include removing all mention of any connection with the Russian Orthodox Church. Though the updated statutes have yet to be published, this would seem to be confirmed by the fact that His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine commemorated His Holiness Patriarch Kirill not as the primate over him, but as one of many primates whose Churches are in communion with the UOC.
A number of reports from Council attendees appeared online soon after the Council finished, differing in their assessment of the proceedings and in how much agreement there really was about the resolutions and statute changes.
On Friday evening, just a few hours after the Council, the Donetsk Diocese stated that its Church life will not change in any way. The diocesan press service reports:
It should be pointed out that according to the decision of the UOC Council, the changes in the Statutes won’t affect a number of dioceses, including the Donetsk diocese. That is, the Church life in the Donetsk Diocese will not be subject to any changes.
The Diocese is referring to resolution 7 from Friday’s Council:
During the period of martial law, when relations between dioceses and the central Church leadership are complicated or absent, the Council considers it expedient to grant diocesan bishops the right to independently make decisions on certain issues of diocesan life that fall within the competence of the Holy Synod or the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, with the subsequent informing of the hierarchy, when the opportunity is restored.
Both dioceses report that their hierarchs told the Council that the UOC’s status as autonomous within the Moscow Patriarchate is most ideal, that their delegations unanimously voted against the changes to the UOC statutes, and that they “remain under the omophorion of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.”
And though it hasn’t issued any statements since the Council, the Zaporozhye Diocese, headed by the outspoken Metropolitan Luke, had already published His Eminence’s remarks to the clergy meeting held on May 23, in which he argued strongly against the UOC becoming autocephalous:
Orthodoxy, no matter how hard its representatives try, simply has no place in the coordinate system of the ideology prevailing in the world, aimed at Its destruction. The secular rulers of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine will never let it live in peace. Even if it becomes three times autocephalous and “yellow-blue,” they’ll still consider it a fifth column and declare that its autocephaly is “a trick of the Kremlin and the FSB to keep their agents in Ukraine.”
Therefore, in our opinion, the acquisition of autocephaly in any form is just getting a little respite before an even greater attack is launched on the Church. The pressure will be aimed at bringing it into a new unia. After the adoption of autocephaly, a forced merger with the “OCU” will still follow, the top managers of which talk without hesitation about creating a roadmap for unification with the Uniates. Strategically, this will lead to the Catholicization of our country with the further creation of a syncretistic religion, which is what the apologists of ecumenism, led by Western and Eastern Popes, are seeking. They are instruments in the hands of the devil, who fulfill the goal set before them: the destruction of Orthodoxy. Our Church was chosen as an experimental site.
I don’t want to be a prophet, but total destruction awaits us if we lose unity within the Church…