Patriarch Filaret to UAOC hierarchs: setting forth new knowingly unacceptable conditions is an attempt to disrupt unification
Patriarch Filaret is concerned about the possibility of disruption of the process of unification with the UAOC. According to him, September 14 is the ultimate date of the Local Unification Council. Any attempts to postpone it to a later date are indicative of the desire to overextend the process and to avoid association.
This is stated in Patriarch Filaret’s message to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
“We are concerned that the time limit specified in the Final Decision, until June 30 this year, before which our Synod and your Bishops' Council were to have taken a decision on convening the Local Unification Council, are already violated. Although the date in the end of June was mutually approved at a proposal by the Commission UAOC. Our Synod has decided on it already on June18. The media reported that the Bishops’ Council of the UAOC, which was to take place by the end of June, was scheduled for July 9. We hope that this departure from previous agreements is technical in nature,” the document says.
Patriarch Filaret outlined his vision for a number of fundamental questions concerning the unification.
In case the two Churches unite, he proposes to retain all the effective bodies of the UAOC - dioceses, vicariates, and deaneries. The hierarchs shall retain jurisdiction over the parishes they rule now.
As for the choice of the name of the unified Church, established on the basis of the UAOC and the UOC-KP, in this case he thinks it appropriate to take into account the nuances of Ukrainian legislation.
“It should be understood that in this case all we need to proceed not only from our theoretical suggestions, but from realities of Ukrainian legislation. A complete change of the official name to "the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate" implies for each diocese, parish and monastery, i.e. for more than 6000 registered religious organizations of both our Churches not only registration changes the statute, but the execution of new constitutive and entitlement documents –including the changes in the state register of legal entities, changes in title deeds for land, churches and other property, and the changes to the agreements for services and replacement of seals. I do not think, dear hierarchs, fathers and brothers, that you really want to undergo all the legal procedures anew only because there is an opinion that such name is better,” the hierarch argues.
“We propose to retain the name of the ‘UOC Kyiv Patriarchate’ for the whole Church, but the diocese, monasteries, parishes who wish to retain the UAOC as their name shall retain it. It will suffice to make one amendment to the statute on religious organizations belonging to the Unified Church,” Patriarch Filaret continues.
The delegates’ composition to the Unity Council, he said, should be formed based on the principles of equality and generally accepted practice.
“As for the composition of the Local Unification Council delegates, we take as a premise the practice that exists in our and your church, as well as in the churches of the Ukrainian Diaspora –the delegates are elected on the equality basis and represent an equal proportion of their delegators. For example, at your last Local Council, the number of representatives from each diocese was determined with regard to the number of parishes it comprises and not on the principle of the equal number of delegates from each diocese.
In the same way, making decisions by majority vote at a council also complies with the practice of the ancient Church– this is the procedure of the ancient councils and modern ones,” the Patriarch says.
In his address to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, Patriarch Filaret says that the Ecumenical Patriarch closely follows the unification process, which depends on recognition of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“I am convinced that delaying the unification process, setting forth some extra knowingly unacceptable conditions, which happened repeatedly in the past, will show not only to the Ukrainian people, but also to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who maintains a truly responsible attitude towards the future of the Ukrainian Church and who does not. I am sure that the cause of building the local Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its recognition by the Universal Orthodoxy will be continued - but not by those who neither understand nor feel their personal responsibility before God, the Church and Ukraine,” Patriarch Filaret emphasizes.