17 December 2018, 19:09
UOC Synod accuses Constantinople of deepening schism in Ukraine
Moscow, December 17, Interfax - Constantinople's policy on Ukraine may have made it impossible to overcome the church schism, according to the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
"The Patriarchate of Constantinople's actions have already led to a situation where the possibility of restoring Orthodox unity in Ukraine has been rejected for a long time, if not forever," the Synod said in a statement after an extraordinary meeting in Kiev on Monday.
On December 15, the unification assembly, held in the presence of President Pyotr Poroshenko, established a new Ukrainian church and elected Epiphany Dumenko, a protege of the leader of the now former "Kiev Patriarchate", Filaret Denisenko, its leader. It is expected that on January 6, Epiphany, again in Poroshenko's presence, will receive the tomos of autocephaly from the hands of Patriarch Bartholomew.
"It is a shame that one of the initiators of today's tribulations for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the Patriarchate of Constantinople which motivates its right to interfere in our church affairs by the fact that our Church was once under its jurisdiction," the Synod says in the final document.
The Russian Orthodox Church "was forced to proclaim its autocephaly in consequence of the betrayal by the Patriarchate of Constantinople of the Orthodox faith" and its signing of the union with Rome at a Ferrara-Florence Council meeting in 1439, it said.
"This spiritual betrayal of the Orthodox faith was also the main reason for the Kiev archdiocese's secession from Constantinople. The union dented the church relations and caused the mistrust later exacerbated by centuries of our lands having no due pastoral care and help from the Church of Constantinople at most difficult times for the Orthodox faith," the Synod said.
Weakened by the religious standoff with the Uniates and devastated by wars, especially after the 1596 Union of Brest, The Kiev archdiocese became part of the Russian Orthodox Church in the late 19th century in order to preserve the Orthodox faith, the document said.
"So today the Patriarchate of Constantinople has neither moral nor canonical right to interference in the internal affairs and the spiritual life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," the Synod said.