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The Council of Bishops of the Church of Ukraine, which met on Tuesday in its enlarged composition, chaired by Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, took important decisions.
In particular, the Council of Bishops of the Church of Ukraine reaffirmed the Church’s desire and readiness to engage in a dialogue aimed at achieving the unity of Orthodoxy in Ukraine, on the basis of the Tomos of Autocephaly.
It decided to stop the commemoration in the Diptychs of the name of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, because of his acceptance of the Russian attack against Ukraine as well as the promotion of the ideology of the “Russian world”, which “falls within the definition of the heresy of ethno-racialism”.
It also asks Metropolitan Epifaniy to appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Primates of the Local Churches to bring Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to account and to deprive him of the Patriarchal throne for the propagation of heresy ethno-racial doctrine based on the ideology of the “Russian world”, as well as for the provocation of a schism in the Church, especially through the establishment of a “Russian Exarchate” in Africa, in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
It calls on the state to continue “to fulfill its duty, which is to protect the religious community and the whole of society from hostile foreign influence, from attempts from abroad that, under the pretext of religious activity, interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine, and to destroy the neo-imperial ideology. This obligation is particularly important in light of the use of religious bodies in Russia’s hybrid attack on Ukraine.”
The council expressed its heartfelt gratitude to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his visit to Kyiv in August 2021, as well as to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and the Churches of Cyprus and Greece, for their support during the trial of war.
Finally, the council prayed in particular for the Ukrainian soldiers who are defending the country from the Russian attack, as well as for the civilians who are affected by the hostile attacks, for the refugees and the displaced.
Appeal to the Russian Church in Ukraine: Join us, there is no alternative jurisdiction
In fact, the Council of Bishops of the Church of Ukraine, with a separate announcement, addressed the clergy of the Russian Church in Ukraine, inviting them to dialogue without any preconditions.
It urged them to recognize the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of October 2018, stressing that the Ecumenical Patriarchate recently made a similar decision regarding the Hierarchy of the Archdiocese of Ohrid in North Macedonia.
On the basis of this decision, the Eucharistic communion between the Archdiocese of Ohrid and the Patriarchate of Serbia, which was suspended 55 years ago, was restored.
Therefore, according to the Council, the Russian Church of Ukraine should withdraw its decision to sever communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and some local Churches and follow the example of the Patriarchate of Serbia, which recognized the canonicality of the Hierarchy of the Church of North Macedonia, in accordance with the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
“It has been repeatedly pointed out that the current lack of agreement between us on jurisdictional issues should not be an obstacle to cooperation and unity in the Eucharist,” the Council added.
“We urge you, our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox faith, to follow the Tomos on Autocephaly, which stipulates that all dioceses, monasteries, parishes, and other Orthodox ecclesiastical institutions must fall under the jurisdiction of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The existence of the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow in Ukraine, as well as any other way that provides separation from the Church of Ukraine the existence of Orthodox ecclesiastical structures in our country – is a canonical anomaly, a violation that sooner or later must be corrected,” it is emphasized.
The Council reminded us that if before 2018 there was no unified, Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine, recognized by global Orthodoxy, it is now impossible to “recreate” it. We need to move forward with what is forever engraved in history, the Council said.
It added that those who want to follow the canonical order should not seek an alternative perspective. “The Ecumenical Patriarchate does not intend and will not create any alternative jurisdiction in the canonical territory of the Church of Ukraine.”
The Council called on them to support the removal of the Patriarch of Moscow from the Patriarchal Throne, expressing the hope that “you will listen to our calls and follow the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and join us in the construction of the Church of Ukraine.”