"There is no single canonical ground to hinder relations between OCU and PAOC," - Metropolitan Epifaniy responds to Metropolitan Savva

"There is no single canonical ground to hinder relations between OCU and PAOC," - Metropolitan Epifaniy responds to Metropolitan Savva - фото 1
The Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, per the decision of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, sent a letter to Metropolitan Savva of Warsaw and All Poland regarding complaints against the Orthodox Church of Ukraine received by the Ecumenical Patriarchate from the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

The letter notes that the OCU sees no canonical grounds, except for subjective bias, which would prevent the establishment of a normal order of communication between local Churches and the OCU. However, so far, the OCU has not received a response from the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church to the peace letters sent by it, nor proposals for dialogue to clarify all the issues that have mutually arisen and continue to arise. The OCU states facts when the hierarchs and clergy of the papal church not only refuse to concelebrate priests of the OCU but even refuse them communion.

That is why, the OCU notes, its priests find support and understanding in the Catholic Church, which provides them with premises for performing divine services and church activities among Ukrainian refugees.

"In this regard, we absolutely do not understand the complaints from the hierarchs and clergy of the PAOC to the Ecumenical Patriarchate about the contacts of the OCU clergy with the Catholic Church. Should Your Beatitude or the clergy of the PAOC have anything to ask us, we are ready for a fraternal dialogue. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is an autocephalous local church and not a part or structure of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so we ask you to put all questions concerning the OCU first," the letter of the OCU hierarchs says.

They note that the church activities carried out on a temporary basis among Ukrainian refugees by OCU clerics are forced because the pope has not offered them any other way to meet their spiritual needs and does not offer them.

Metropolitan Epifaniy notes that the OCU is open to fraternal constructive dialogue and finding solutions to all issues and expects the same openness on the pope's part.

The letter was published on the official website of the OCU.

The text was approved by the Holy Synod:

To His Beatitude Savva,
Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland,

Primate of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church

Your Beatitude!

On behalf of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, I appeal to you in connection with complaints that the clergy of the church you lead are sent to the Ecumenical Patriarchate against the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

As you know, on the basis of the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the decisions of the Unification Council in St Sophia of Kyiv on December 15, 2018, as well as the patriarchal and Synodal Tomos on autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine of January 6, 2019, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was canonically created and recognized as an autocephalous sister church, which is included in the 15th diptych of Churches. The hierarchy and clergy of the OCU have an undoubted canonical dignity.

Therefore, we do not see any canonical basis, except for subjective bias, which would prevent the establishment of a normal order of communion between our local churches. Unfortunately, to date, the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church has not received a response to the peace letters we sent nor proposals for dialogue to clarify all the issues that have arisen and continue to arise.

This unfortunate situation has worsened due to the biased attitude of a significant part of the clergy of the Church headed by Your Beatitude towards the clergy and faithful of the OCU, who were forced to find themselves in Poland as refugees, fleeing from the suffering and threats of the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. It is with pain that we receive testimony about numerous examples of how the hierarchs and clergy of the papacy not only refuse to concelebrate priests of the OCU but even refuse them communion, treating them as non-Christians.

Therefore, being "persecuted in one place, they go to another", finding fraternal help, support and understanding in the Catholic Church, which provides them with premises for performing divine services and church activities.

In this regard, we absolutely do not understand the complaints from the hierarchs and clergy of the papal church to the Ecumenical Patriarchate about the contacts of the OCU clergy with the Catholic Church. Should Your Beatitude or the clergy of the PAOC have anything to ask us, we are ready for a fraternal dialogue. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is an autocephalous local church and not a part or structure of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so we ask you to put all questions concerning the OCU first.

As a local Sister-Church, we honor and respect the canonical order and rights of your Holy Local Church. Therefore, we emphasize that our clergy are forced to carry out church activities on a temporary basis among Ukrainian refugees because your Holy Church has not offered them any other way to meet their spiritual needs and does not offer them any other way.

Your Beatitude!

I personally and our local church are open to fraternal constructive dialogue and to finding solutions to all issues. We expect the same openness on the part of the PAOC.

Please be assured of my prayers.

With Love In Christ –