Meeting of the OCU Bishops Council comes to an end
The first Bishops' Council of the OCU since its proclamation on December 15 last year is now over. It was an expanded Bishops' Council, attended by all the diocesan bishops. The Primate of the OCU, His Beatitude Epifaniy, told the media about the outstanding events and decisions of this year and plans for the future.
The Primate of the OCU said that the Council approved the decisions taken at the 8 meetings of the Synod during the year, which is 72 journals. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine was recognized by two local churches — of Alexandria and Greece. Recognition from several other local Churches is expected over the next year. "I will not name them now, so as not to facilitate the work of the brothers, who persistently prevent our recognition," said Epifaniy.
A year of activity of His Beatitude Epifaniy in the status of Primate of the OCU has passed. He reported that he had faced many challenges, both internal and external ones. But he considers the year successful. First of all, the unity of the Church was preserved, and thanks to this recognition were received from other Churches.
There have also been several reforms in the rites, in particular, changes in the celebration of the Liturgy. It was also important to establish cooperation with youth organizations, mainly in Eastern Ukraine.
600 parishes of the UOC-MP have already joined the OCU, but the opposition continues. That said, Vinnytsia region was elected a kind of "pilot project" of such opposition to the registration of communities of the OCU, which involved even police officers.
As for the world recognition of the OCU, Metropolitan Epifany is sure that this process is irreversible. The OCU will be recognized by all local Orthodox Churches of the world. And the ROC will be the last Church to recognize the OCU. It is only a matter of time because the OCU is an independent Autocephalous Church, which received the 15th place in the Diptych of Orthodox Churches in the world.
When asked about the date of Christmas, the Primate stressed that the Church is ready to reform the calendar, but the faithful, especially in Western Ukraine, are still opposed. This is evidenced by sociological studies and internal surveys of the OCU. We need a lot of educational work, to which Bishop Epifaniy called journalists. He noted that he does not raise this issue too much, because it now divides society. "We need to explain to people that we celebrate not a date, but an event - the Christmas of our Lord Jesus Christ," the Bishop reminded.
Patriarch Filaret did not arrive at the Council, although he was invited. According to His Beatitude Epifaniy, the participants of the Council urged him to reconciliation and to stop his self-isolation.
At the end of the Council, at 13.00 in the Cathedral of St. Sofia, a prayer service with the participation of representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was performed. At 16.45, the Vespers and All-Night Vigil will be held in St. Michael's Cathedral, and tomorrow at 9.00 - the Hierarchical Liturgy.