Filaret called on Zelensky to help convene an All-Ukrainian Local Council to proclaim autocephaly of the UOC with patriarchal status
The appeal was published on the website of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate.
"The military offensive carried out by Russia on Ukraine, as well as the support of this terrible and anti-Christian war by the Moscow Patriarch Kirill, the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church, raised a fundamental question about the impossibility of the Moscow Patriarchate continuing to stay on the territory of our country. This Church has made itself an undisguised henchman and inspirer of the Russian aggressor. Therefore, it should bear full responsibility for the crimes committed in Ukraine by the Russian occupiers.
During the Russian-Ukrainian war, the Ukrainian Church, as the spiritual foundation of the Ukrainian nation, is particularly in dire need of two things: independence and unity.
The decision of the local council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate on May 27, 2022, regarding the independent status of this Church from Moscow, opened up unique prospects for Orthodox unification and the formation of a truly united local Ukrainian Orthodox Church," Patriarch Filaret writes.
He believes that the division of the Church of Ukraine into the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate is "a crime before the Ukrainian people."
"The Church is a great consolidating spiritual force that can inspire and support the people in the struggle for their freedom... United within the country, it will be easier for us to overcome an external enemy," the letter says.
Patriarch Filaret told the president that as the oldest Bishop of the Orthodox Church in terms of consecration and age, he took the initiative to convene an all-Ukrainian local Orthodox Council, which would be attended by representatives of all three branches of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. This council should decide to unite into a single local Apostolic Ukrainian Orthodox Church with patriarchal administration and proclaim full autocephaly. Filaret assured that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate is already ready to participate in such a council.
He explained that it is the Patriarchate that "guarantees the true independence of the UOC from other Thrones and religious centers." Such an entity, according to Filaret, would be the end of the institutionalization of the Ukrainian Church as a fully autocephalous church.
"It is the status of the Patriarchate that will put the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (as an ancient church with a centuries-old tradition and a large number of believers) in its proper and well-deserved place in the family of Orthodox Churches. This, by the way, will automatically solve the problem of belonging to three Ukrainian Lavras and other shrines. Putin's rashist Moscow is most afraid of such a unification of our church and is doing everything possible to breed hatred, enmity, discord, and continue religious confrontation," Filaret notes.
He called on Volodymyr Zelensky to "initiate unification processes on the part of the Ukrainian state in Ukrainian orthodoxy and support the holding of the All-Ukrainian local Orthodox Council, which would lead all Orthodox Christians of our country to unity and full independence from other religious centers, would proclaim autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with patriarchal status."
"You will be able to bring this extremely important task to a successful conclusion. I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of the episcopate, clergy, monastics, and laity of all branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will have a positive attitude to the implementation of the idea of Pan-Orthodox Ukrainian unity and your help as head of state in its implementation," Filaret believes.
He suggests, as a very first step, to meet with the heads of the three Ukrainian Orthodox churches to discuss this issue, and after the formation of a joint organizing committee for the preparation of the All-Ukrainian Orthodox Local Council, delegate their representatives to work in it.