Return to UOC-KP and attempts to change Charter present threat of losing Tomos, Metropolitan Epifaniy says
Given the recent developments inside the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, connected with the rumors that Patriarch Emeritus Filaret wants to convene a Local Council in the beginning of summer with a view to change the Charter of the OCU and reassume the patriarchal status, Primate of the OCU, Metropolitan Epipfaniy gave an interview to the Livyy Bereh.
The Metropolitan claims that he is doing his best to maintain good relations with Patriarch Emeritus Filaret and adds that it is inappropriate to speak now about the amendment to the Charter of the OCU.
“Indeed, there are reports that the Council will be convened to amend the Charter, but this is not true, since the Primate, the Holy Synod or the Bishops’ Council are authorized to convene the Council. Only the Local Council is entitled to amend the Charter. And in order to convene it, you need to go through a certain procedure. The mechanism is as follows: The Primate submits proposals to the Holy Synod, if the Synod supports them, then the Bishops’ Council will consider it and brings certain ready-made questions for consideration by the Local Council. Therefore, it is inappropriate to speak about amending the Charter now. Why? We have received the Tomos, and adopted the Charter at the Unification Council, by which we now abide, and which is also legally certified by the state. It is obvious that in due course, in the future, certain amendments will be made to the Charter, some things will be described in more detail – those that have not been thoroughly elaborated by now - concerning the life of parishes, monasteries, dioceses. The things that do not contradict in general what is stated in the Tomos, and do not envisage any radical changes,” Metropolitan Epifaniy reiterates.
According to Metropolitan Epifaniy, the changes that contradict the Tomos - for example, the rotation of the Synod members, returning to the Kyiv Patriarchate – are dangerous because “we can lose our church independence, which is clearly stated in the document called the “Tomos.”
Metropolitan Epifaniy stresses that now there is no urgent need in the Local Council. Every year, the Bishops’ Council should be convened, and the Local Council will be convened only in case of urgent need.
“We do not refuse to hold Local Councils. They will be held regularly in the future, as expedient for the life of the Local Orthodox Church. But at the moment we do not see any need of this. There are no legal mechanisms for holding the Local Council without the consent of the Primate, outside the Holy Synod and the Bishops' Council. Otherwise it will mean a split.
We are legally inside the one Local Orthodox Church and must be guided by the Charter, which was adopted at the Unification Council, which was confirmed by the Tomos, which is legally registered by the order of the Ministry of Culture. The Tomos and the Charter are inextricably linked. If we make changes to the Charter that are contrary to the provisions of the Tomos, it may be suspended or revoked. This is a danger! This is a way to nowhere and return to isolation. Moreover, if earlier we had confrontation with the Moscow Patriarchate while centering our hopes on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, appealing to it for help, for the invalidation of Moscow's disciplinary punishment – entering upon the path of returning to the past we will get a controversy with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Then the division will occur in the Church itself, because I am confident that everyone will be unwilling to destroy what has been built up with such efforts. There will be a confrontation, isolation, disappointment and oppression in society. All this would have disastrous consequences for the Church and for Ukraine, as we have seen in the past in our history, when divisions took place.
We should apprehend and prevent this. In my communication with the bishops, I see unanimity in the fact that we are on the path leading us towards development. Talking about the return, nobody agrees with such a scenario],” said the Metropolitan.
In addition, the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not exclude that in the future the Ukrainian Church will have the status of the Patriarchate. But first, it is necessary to unite the Orthodox Ukraine around the Kyivan Throne, that is, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.