The clergy and laity of the UOC-MP demand answers to 10 questions regarding the status of their Church and withdrawal from the ROC
The appeal is shared on the FB page "Voice of UOC Clergymen".
10 questions to the hierarchs and Synod of the UOC from the clergy and laity.
"We, the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are extremely concerned about the recent events that are taking place around our Church because of Russia’s unlawful war against Ukraine and, in particular, the lack of clear and consistent explanations from the Holy Synod of the UOC.
We would like to ask ten questions, the answers to which would reassure the clergy and flock of the UOC and would help change the attitude of Ukrainian society towards it. We are presenting our questions to the hierarchs and the Holy Synod of the UOC in this appeal, hoping to get clear and specific answers to them:
1. What is the current status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church? Does it recognize itself as a fully autocephalous, autonomous, or self-governing part of some local Orthodox Church? Please explain this officially since there is no other status in Orthodox canon law other than autocephaly, autonomy or self-governing parts and structural divisions of other local churches.
2. Does the Holy Synod confirm the decision of the UOC to withdraw from the ROC? If so, what official documents certify its withdrawal? Please make copies of such documents public.
3. Has the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church sent an official statement or an act of complete withdrawal from the Russian Orthodox Church to the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church? Please make copies of such documents public.
4. Have the Primate and other hierarchs of the UOC officially left the Synod, the Bishops’ Councils and local councils, the Inter-Counciliar presence, and other ecclesiastical-canonical bodies of the Russian Orthodox Church? If so, please publish copies of appeals to the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on the official withdrawal (and not just temporary "termination" of participation) of the UOC episcopate from all Russian Orthodox Church governing bodies.
5. Does the Holy Synod of the UOC consider as null and void the decision of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church of October 25-26, 1990, which determines the mandatory blessing of the newly elected head of the UOC by the Moscow Patriarch (clause 3) and the mandatory permanent ex officio membership of the head of the UOC in the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (clause 8)? Should this be the case, please release copies of such official documents to confirm this.
6. Does the Holy Synod of the UOC consider annulled those clauses of the Charter of Patriarch Alexy II Moscow dated October 28, 1990, which proclaims the canonical dependence of the UOC on the ROC and determines that the UOC is in communion with other Local Orthodox Churches precisely through the connection with the ROC and should be guided by the decisions of the Bishops’ Councils of the ROC? The Charter of Patriarch Alexy II puts the UOC in a covert dependence on the Russian Orthodox Church. The new version of the Statute on the Governance of the UOC confirms this dependence by mentioning this Charter in clause 1 of the Statute. If the Holy Synod of the UOC considers these clauses of the Charter null and void for itself, we would appreciate it if you publish copies of the documents confirming this.
7. Does the Holy Synod of the UOC consider the "Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church", in particular its Section X, which determines the subordination of the UOC to the Russian Orthodox Church and its governing bodies, to be no longer valid for itself? In 2017, the UOC hierarchs voted unanimously for this charter as members of the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church. If the Holy Synod of the UOC considers as no longer valid the "Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church" they have previously approved, we are requesting you to publish documents confirming this, in particular, an official decision and a letter to the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
8. Did the Holy Synod of the UOC send Peaceful Epistles to the Primates of all local Orthodox Churches on the withdrawal of the UOC from the ROC, and did they launch negotiations with other local Churches on recognizing the full autocephaly of the UOC and regulating its canonical status? Should this be the case, please make copies of such documents public.
9. Does the Holy Synod of the UOC condemn the statements of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow about the support and justification of Russia’s war against Ukraine, as well as the fundamentalist ideology of the Russian World promoted, which by all indications is heretical and non-Orthodox in nature? We are all waiting not just for a formal, tacit or unclear "disagreement" but for the condemnation of these statements and ideas as unorthodox at the official church level in the UOC.
If the Holy Synod of the UOC really condemns them, we ask to publish official documents to confirm this.
10. Does the Holy Synod of the UOC condemn the illegal annexation by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of a number of dioceses and parishes of the UOC in the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia, and does the Holy Synod of the UOC condemn the unfortunate facts of collaboration among individual bishops and priests of the UOC? If so, please release official documents about it.
Sincere and unambiguous answers of the Holy Synod to these questions would reassure the flock and clergy of the UOC and would help improve the attitude of Ukrainian society as a whole.
If official documents on all or some of these questions are not yet available, we ask to bring these questions to the next meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC to develop an official position in this respect or to communicate the reason for the refusal to submit them for the Holy Synod’s consideration on the official website of the UOC.
Unfortunately, the provisions of the "Statute on Governance of the UOC" do not answer the questions raised regarding the ecclesiastical-canonical connection and dependence of the UOC on the Russian Orthodox Church, which existed all the previous 30 years. The lack of clear and consistent answers to these and other questions in Russia’s war against Ukraine creates even greater distrust of the UOC leadership.
We hope that the members of the Holy Synod of the UOC, if they are truly striving to represent the Church of the Ukrainian people and not the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, will approach these questions with pastoral care and provide comprehensive and unambiguous official answers to them," reads the appeal.