Ecumenical Patriarch sees no split in Orthodoxy over the OCU autocephaly
He stated this in an interview with the newspaper Το Βήμα, reports "Religion in Ukraine" while citing UNN.
When asked how he assesses the course of the new Church in Ukraine two years after granting it the Tomos of autocephaly and whether he is worried about Pan-Orthodox unity, Bartholomew said that all those who question the rights and responsibilities of the Patriarchate of Constantinople question the very structure of Orthodoxy.
"The unity of Orthodoxy will not be tested because of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's response to the request of the Ukrainian Orthodox, Ukrainian autocephaly was an act of responsibility of the Mother Church towards millions of our Orthodox brothers who were, through no fault of their own, outside the Church," the media outlet quotes Bartholomew, who added that "it was not the matter of serving political goals or geopolitical interests."
In his opinion, two years later he sees how "the new church is developing", and Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv is contributing "with his fraternal initiatives to the normalization of church life."
Patriarch Bartholomew said that he "read about the violence of radical groups against Orthodox Christians," and "if this is true," he condemns such actions.
The first hierarch called erroneous the decision of the "fraternal" Russian Orthodox Church to interrupt communication with Constantinople and with local churches that recognized the OCU. "Nevertheless, I reiterate, there is no schism in Orthodoxy," he said.
Bartholomew reiterated the right of the Phanar (the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch — ed.) to resolve such problems. "As for me as Ecumenical Patriarch, I cannot put Orthodox ecclesiology on the altar of humiliating motives. I have no right to take a single step back," the first hierarch said.
He rejected accusations that he behaved like the pope of the East and Orthodoxy. "Those who make this accusation want to create a false idea that the Ecumenical Patriarchate allegedly violates the normal tradition of Orthodoxy, which, of course, they not only disrespect and fail to recognize but violate it, interpret it against the Holy Canons," Bartholomew said.
"In fact, the problem is not in Ukrainian autocephaly and not in allegedly non-existent or Invalid ordinations in the Ukrainian hierarchy, which some deliberately refer to. The goal is to take away these unique responsibilities of the Throne of Constantinople and transfer them to other hands," Bartholomew said, adding that he would not put up with this.
In 2018, the autocephalous Unification Council was held in Kyiv, where the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was announced. The Russian Orthodox Church severed Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople in October 2018. In 2019, the OCU was recognized by the first hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches of Alexandria and Greece, and in 2020 — by the Primate of the Church of Cyprus. In response, the Russian Orthodox Church announced the severance of Eucharistic communion with those hierarchs of the Greek, Alexandrian and Cypriot Orthodox Churches who recognize the OCU and will concelebrate allegedly "with schismatics".