Moscow, November 30, Interfax - Self-proclaimed "Kiev Patriarchate" leader Filaret Denisenko asked Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church bishops to pardon him and bring him back to the canonical Orthodox Church's fold, from which he was expelled in 1997.
Denisenko's written petition is dated November 16, 2017. The Bishops' Council, which is underway in Moscow, heard it on Thursday.
The letter contains a request about restoration of Eucharistic and prayer communication with Christians, who are involved in Ukrainian church split-up, and repealing "all decisions, including disciplinary punishments and anathemas [...] so as to reach peace commanded by the God between fellow Orthodox Christians and reconciliation between peoples."
"I am asking to be pardoned for all my sins committed in word, deed and all my feelings, and I sincerely forgive everyone with all my heart," the patriarch's spokesperson Priest Alexander Volkov told reporters.
The Bishops' Council appreciates this request "as a step to settle the schism and restore the church communication by those, who have fallen apart from unity with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church some time ago," the church forum said in its decision.
In previous years participants of the Bishops' Councils and the Holy Synods have already repeatedly appealed to those, who have joined the schism, to repent.
"We are praying for the coming of an hour, when those joining the split-up will freely and voluntarily express a wish to return to the Church's fold; for this long-awaited day, which will bring peace and salvation to many tired-out souls, to come. And we believe that it will come for sure," the Russian Orthodox Church Synod said in an address on July 26, 2010, to Ukrainian Orthodox Christians, who fell apart from the canonical Orthodox Church.
"After 25 sorrowful years of feuds, violence, mutual enmity, offences and troubles, which have emerged in the Ukrainian Orthodoxy and Ukrainian society due to the split-up, the possibility to embark on the path of restoring unity will finally appear," the Bishops' Council said in its Thursday's statement.
"Resolute abandonment of violence and the takeover of churches, giving up of mutual accusations and reproaches, mutual forgiveness of old insults to each other, these are healing remedies of self-sacrifice and the love for the Christ, which are the only ones by which the unity of the canonical Church in Ukraine can be restored," bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate said.
For further negotiations with those who fell apart from church communication the Bishops' Council at its Thursday's meeting has set up a committee, which has been headed up by Synodal Department for External Church Relations head Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.