Patriarch Bartholomew: the new autocephalous Church of Ukraine is the only canonical Orthodox Church on the territory of the Ukrainian
This is stated in the letter of Patriarch Bartholomew to the Co-founders of the Public Organization Religious Security Center Editors of the Cerkvarium project Tetyana Derkach and Dmytro Horyevoy.
His Holiness Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Eminent members of the Holy Synod Your Holiness! Eminent members of the Holy Synod!
We sincerely thank the Mother Church for giving the Orthodox Church of Ukraine the long-awaited and long-suffering Tomos of autocephaly. To the great sorrow of believers in the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, this has not yet led to the uniting of Orthodoxy in Ukraine because of the categorical refusal of the Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate to enter into dialogue.
At the same time, the Church under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, which calls itself the "Ukrainian Orthodox Church", continues to consider itself the only canonical, completely independent from the Moscow Patriarchate, almost autocephalous Church in Ukraine.
This misleads a large number of believers and impedes uniting.
We ask Your Holiness and Eminent members of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Mother Church to explain to all believers in Ukraine:
1. What is the canonical status of the Orthodox Church under the leadership of Metropolitan Onufry?
2. Does the official name of this Church reflect its actual canonical status?
3.Is the distortion of the canonical status in the relationship between the church and the state consistent with church tradition?
Dmytro Horyevoy and Tetyana Derkach
Co-founders of the Public Organization Religious Security Center Editors of the Cerkvarium project
To Mr. Dmytro Horyevoy and Ms. Tatyana Derkach, Founders of the NGO Religious Security Centre and Editors of the Cerkvarium, beloved children of our Modesty in the Lord: Grace and peace from God. In response to your letter of July 20, 2020, and Prot. No. 7, we would like to remind you that on October 11, 2018, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Mother Church of the Metropolis of Kyiv, revoked the Patriarchal and Synodal Letter of Issuance of 1686. This Letter granted, as a form of «condescension», to the Patriarch of Moscow the right to only ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv, who ought to be elected by the clergy-laity assembly of his eparchy and to commemorate during the Divine Liturgy «among the first» the Ecumenical Patriarch, «as his source and authority, and as superior to all dioceses and eparchies everywhere», proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople.
On the same day, the Holy and Sacred Synod also decided to accept the petitions of appeal of Filaret Denisenko, Makariy Maletych and their followers, who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, canonically reinstating the hierarchs and clergy to their ranks and restoring the faithful to communion with the Church, and to proceed to the granting of autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine. Subsequently, a Unifying Clergy-Laity Assembly (Sobor) was convened by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Kyiv on December 15, 2018. All the Orthodox hierarchs in Ukraine received an invitation to this Unifying Synod through our patriarchal letters.
Unfortunately, the Ukrainian hierarchs, under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, except two, ignored our invitation letter and did not participate in the Unifying Synod, as they were expected to. This Sobor elected Metropolitan Epiphanios as the canonical Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine and adopted the Constitutional Charter of the Church of Ukraine, which was drafted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in November 2018. Then, the Tomos proclaiming the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine was handed into the hands of Metropolitan Epiphanios by our Modesty at the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar on January 6, 2019.
Since then, the new autocephalous Church of Ukraine is the only canonical Orthodox Church on the territory of the Ukrainian State and His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv and all Ukraine ought to be recognized as its canonical Primate. In accordance with the canonical principle of territoriality, which is inherent in and a permanent given of Orthodox ecclesiology, no other Church can be present within the jurisdiction of the Church of Ukraine.
Nevertheless, in a spirit of pastoral sensitivity, we temporarily tolerate the existence of the Ukrainian hierarchs under Russia, not as local ruling bishops, but merely as titular or residing hierarchs in Ukraine, according to canon 8 of I Nicaea, hoping that, God willing, they will soon unite with the local Church.
For this reason, His Eminence Onuphrios is no more considered as the canonical Metropolitan of Kyiv, but as a hierarch residing in Kyiv, as it has been printed in the Yearbook of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the year 2020. With these thoughts, we pray the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, who always heals by Divine grace that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking, bring all the hierarchs, clergy and God-loving people in Ukraine to unity, and we gladly extend unto all of you our Patriarchal blessings, bestowing upon you the grace and the infinite mercy of God.
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, October 6, 2020
BARTHOLOMEW Archbishop of Constantinople - New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch