By Efi Efthimiou
The Church of Ukraine under Metropolitan Epifaniy responds sceptically to the announcements of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Onufriy regarding its autonomy and independence from the Patriarchate of Moscow.
As it comments in its communiqué, the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine welcomes and supports all efforts for the final abolition of the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine.
“This authority is illegitimate, imposed by force, and is harmful to Orthodoxy in Ukraine and to the very existence of Ukraine, due to the Russian government’s use of the institutions of the Russian Church and its influence in Ukraine as a means of hybrid aggression,” it underlines.
It expresses its scepticism about what has been announced, noting that no documents have yet been published to prove that the decisions taken by the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” significantly change its status from that granted to it by the Russian Church in 1990, which also determines its dependence on the Patriarchate of Moscow.
All the more so, as the reaction of the Moscow Patriarchate to what was announced by the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” shows that from its point of view at least, the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” remains in its status, and any change in the statutes can only come after the approval of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.
The Church of Ukraine reiterates the call and need for dialogue between the two Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine and that dialogue must begin without preconditions and ultimatums.
However, it expresses its annoyance regarding the fact that the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” continues to break ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Church of Cyprus, and the Church of Greece.
“This, as well as the form of the commemoration of the Primates at the Liturgy chosen by Metropolitan Onufriy last Sunday, confirmed the de facto dependence on the decisions and stance of the Moscow Patriarchate,” it is noted.
And it declares itself disappointed that there was no clear condemnation of the war and the stance of the Moscow Patriarch at the meeting of May 27. “The expressions chosen in the text of the resolutions are very brief and mild compared to the tragedy experienced by our people. Also, there was not a single word of condemnation and distance from the ideology of the ‘Russian world’, a heretical ethno-racial doctrine and a cornerstone for justifying Russia’s war against Ukraine,” it notes.
It concludes that “limited information and contradictory statements are not sufficient at present for final conclusions. Therefore, we look forward to the concrete good results of the decisions of the meeting of May 27, and we support all those who will contribute to their achievement.”