Archbishop Yevstratiy on Filaret's Initiatives: it will certainly not be a local council of UOC-KP
In an interview with Channel 5, Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya) of Chernihiv and Nizhyn of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the OCU, commented on the decision of Patriarch Emeritus Filaret to convene the Council of the Kyiv Patriarchate on June 20.
“This is a meeting that in no way can be a Local Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate for several reasons. First, according to the decision of the true Local Council of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate held on December 15, 2018, it was decided that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate ceases its activities as a religious association by way of joining the newly established Orthodox Church of Ukraine. I attended this Council along with the rest of bishops. There were delegates from the clergy, laity. There were all those who participated in the Unification Council. There are documents, video footage available, as well as many witnesses to the fact that the decision was made openly and the consent was granted by everyone. Only one person voted against,” the hierarch stressed.
He continued: "Pursuant to this decision, the statutory bodies ceased their activities and the Charter of the UOC-KP ceased to be effective. Even according to the Charter of the Kyiv Patriarchate, if you look it up, it states that the Local Council, the Bishops' Council are convened by the Patriarch together with the Holy Synod. The Holy Synod of the Kyiv Patriarchate no longer exists. All members of the Holy Synod of the Kyiv Patriarchate as of December 15 -- with the exception of Patriarch Filaret and Metropolitan of Belgorod in Russia -- in no way support this development. And therefore, the meeting -- of which we hear from the Patriarch Emeritus and which he refers to as a Local Council -- is actually a meeting of some persons invited in a strange manner whatsoever for something that can be called anything, but not the Local Council of the Kyiv Patriarchate," Zorya said.
When asked by the presenter, why the alleged split in the OCU is now on the agenda, Yevstratiy Zorya said: "First, the influence on the part of Russia in this situation has increased. They started acting from inside and -- being aware of the Patriarch's sensitive issues -- are providing him with certain ideas. So I am absolutely confident and it should be clearly understood: the Patriarch does not work in the interests of Moscow and what he is really doing, he thinks that he thus saves the unity and identity of the Ukrainian Church, but, unfortunately, his vision, which he has outlined, is very far from reality. I regret to say this, and it's not my personal impression. I heard it from many people and from many experts that recent developments are largely due to age-related changes that are characteristic of very elderly people."
Archbishop Yevstratiy Zorya also commented on the information in the media that Constantinople can allegedly apply sanctions against Patriarch Filaret: "I think that this is just trading on this issue. Patriarch Filaret is a hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Therefore, all decisions regarding the OCU shall be adopted by the Ukrainian Church."