Kiev, July 11, 2022
A Ukrainian state official who examined the new statutes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church confirms that the document no longer speaks of any connection to the Russian Orthodox Church.
The UOC held a Council in Kiev on May 27 at which major changes were made to the Church’s statutes, “indicating the full autonomy and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” According to many who attended the Council, the changes included removing any and all connection to the Russian Orthodox Church. However, the Church said it would publish the new statutes only after they were registered with the state.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine sent the amended statutes to the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience last month. Last week, the head of the State Service, Elena Bogdan, confirmed on air in an interview with Espreso.TV that according to the statutes, the UOC is completely independent from the Russian Church.
“In an official letter, Metropolitan Onuphry clearly indicated that the UOC is no longer governed by the decision of the Bishops’ Council of the ROC, and officially announced its disassociation from the Moscow Patriarchate,” Bogdan said.
Met. Onuphry has also withdrawn from the Holy Synod of the Russian Church, she noted.
Recall that after the Council in May, Met. Onuphry stopped commemorating Patriarch Kirill as the primate over him, but rather he now reads the diptychs as would the primate of a Local Church. Thus, he now commemorates Patriarch Kirill as one among several primates with whom he shares Eucharistic communion.
“The only connection with the ROC in the documents of the UOC is a reference to the gramota of [Patriarch] Alexei [II], which indicates a connection with universal Orthodoxy through the ROC. The Kiev Metropolia of the UOC explains that this connection doesn’t mean that any actions will be coordinated and agreed upon with the ROC,” Bogdan stressed.
The state official also recalled the recent “annexation” of the Crimean Dioceses by the Russian Church, adding that “similar processes are taking place with the Lugansk Diocese.”
Following the Council in May, the Lugansk Diocese decided to stop commemorating Met. Onuphry in the Divine services, while it continues to commemorate Pat. Kirill.
“In other words, the Russian Orthodox Church has already reacted to the separation of the UOC by trying to take away the dioceses and parishes of the UOC in the occupied territories into direct subordination to Patriarch Kirill. In fact, this is the loss of parishes in the occupied territories,” Bogdan said.
The UOC statutes previously included 10 mentions of the Russian Church:
Under GENERAL PROVISIONS:
3. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is connected with the Local Orthodox Churches through the Russian Orthodox Church.
a. connected to the Local Churches just in and of itself, meaning it is, in fact, autocephalous, OR
b. schismatic, with no connection to the Local Churches, though this is clearly not they’re intention**
4. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church carries out its salvific activities on the basis of Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, adheres steadily to the dogmas of the Orthodox faith and the sacred canons, and in its administration is guided by the resolutions of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of October 25-27, 1990 and these Statutes with respect for state laws and the observance thereof.
5. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church unites dioceses, synodal institutions, deaneries, parishes, monasteries, theological educational institutions, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, and missions and is a self-governing part of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Under the duties of the COUNCIL OF THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH:
6b. preservation of the canonical unity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as its canonical unity with the Russian Orthodox Church and with all Local Orthodox Churches
6c. monitoring the implementation of the decisions of Local Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, Councils of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the statutes adopted by them
Under the section on the BISHOPS’ COUNCIL OF THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH:
5. The Council of Bishops acts on the basis of the sacred canons of the Church, the resolutions of the Local and Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the Councils of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Under the section on the PRIMATE OF THE UOC:
2. The primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is elected for life by the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and is blessed by His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
4. The name of His Beatitude the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine is elevated at the Divine services in all churches and monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church after the name of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
7. As the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine is a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
15. No later than three months after the vacating of the cathedra of the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Locum Tenens and the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church shall convene a Bishops’ Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to elect its primate, the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, and present him to His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to receive a gramota of blessing.