Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow Clash on Canonicity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

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Winter Issue

(Relevant Parts of a document from www.mospat,ru)

In the message to Patriarch Bartholomew, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church urged him to refuse to participate in the political adventure of legalizing the schism in Ukraine.

His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople sent a letter to His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, in which he informed about such actions of the Church of Constantinople as her acceptance into communication of non-canonical communities of Ukraine; The “cancellation of the action” of the diploma of the Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysius IV, who transferred the Kiev metropolis to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate; holding in Kyiv a “local council” of non-canonical communities accepted by Constantinople in communication; on the election of the “head of the new autocephalous church of Ukraine” by them; the intention in the coming days to grant the newly-established community the status of the autocephalous Local Church. As the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church emphasized in his response message , he read this letter “with deep pain, bewilderment and indignation.”
“The reunion of the schismatics with the Church would be a great joy for both Orthodox Ukraine and the entire Orthodox world if it were carried out in accordance with the precepts of canon law, in the spirit of Christ’s peace and love,” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill reminded. “But the current politicized process of forced unification is far from the norms and the spirit of the holy canons. He is accompanied by a monstrous jumble of lies, and now violence towards the genuine Ukrainian Orthodox Church. But this is the same Church of millions of Ukrainian believers, which you recognized as canonical all the years of your ministry up to the last time – now you pretend as if it does not exist, but there are only separate dioceses that have returned to your omophorion. ”
“Your advisers assured you that the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are ready to support the political project of the Kiev authorities, as if a significant part, dozens of canonical bishops are waiting only for your blessing to leave their church,” continued His Holiness. – I warned repeatedly that you are misled. Now you can see for yourself. ”

As noted by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, at the so-called “local council”, which was convened by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and headed by a troika consisting of his representative, the self-appointed “patriarch” (now called “honorary”) Mikhail Denisenko and the secular head of the Ukrainian state , only two of the 90 bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were present. “What you call a“ local council ”has become a meeting of schismatics under the guise of the name of the Holy Church of Constantinople. What is this if not the legalization of the Ukrainian split, which you publicly promised not to allow? ”, Said the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church to Patriarch Bartholomew with these words.
He mentioned that in his decisions the Patriarch of Constantinople refers to the will of the Orthodox people of Ukraine, who allegedly asks for the intervention of Constantinople. But, as noted in the reciprocal message of Patriarch Cyril, it was the will of the overwhelming majority of clergy and believers who truly ecclesiastical people of Ukraine prompted the bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church not to respond to the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew and refuse to participate in the so-called “unifying council” of the Ukrainian schism.

In this message, His Holiness also deals with the issue of two bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, touched upon by Patriarch Bartholomew, which the Patriarchate of Constantinople, despite the canons, accepted in its jurisdiction, it was Metropolitan Simeon (Shorabat) and Metropolitan Alexander (Drabko) who ruled the Vinnitsa Diocese and Metropolitan Alexander (Drabko) Having ascertained that only one of these hierarchs was a diocesan bishop, His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill recalled that the clergy and congregation of his diocese did not accept the actions of Metropolitan Simeon. “After Metropolitan Simeon was legitimately banned in the priesthood by the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, all the monasteries of the Vinnytsia diocese and the overwhelming majority of parishes, along with their clergy, remained in the submission of the new canonical Archbishop of Vinnitsa and Bar’s Varsonophia, – noted His Holiness. “Currently, local authorities are putting pressure on the clergy of the diocese, threatening the priests with reprisals, but clerics, monastics and laity do not want to communicate with the bishop, who betrayed them and the Church.” As for Metropolitan Alexander, also banned in the ministry of the Synod in Kiev, he had a single church in his charge: a conflict arose in his community, and the clergy of the church mostly avoided co-operation with the bishop who had fallen away.
“The principled decision of the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to refuse to participate in the pseudo-assembly you have gathered is not due to the mythical“ pressure of Moscow, ”which under the given political conditions would be impossible, but by the unity of archpastors with their clergy and believers, Patriarch Kirill testifies. “Such unity is not afraid of the gross interference of the Ukrainian authorities in the internal church life, or the government pressure on the Church that has increased many times in recent months. He cannot be abolished with a single stroke of the pen. ”

Responding to an attempt to reconsider the meaning of the set of documents signed in 1686 by his predecessor Patriarch Dionysius IV and the Holy Synod of the Constantinople Church, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church stressed: . And now you are declaring the “cancellation” of the Patriarch and the Synodal Charter, since “the external conditions have changed”. I suggested that you conduct interviews on this issue with the assistance of authoritative historians, theologians and experts in church canon law. You refused, citing lack of time. I can only express my regret that your decisions, destructive for the general church unity, depend so much on “external”

As for the regular repetitions in the letter of the Head of the Constantinople Orthodox Church of the highly controversial statements about allegedly belonging to his Church “exclusive responsibility to provide autocephaly” and to consider appeals from other Local Churches, according to the “spiritual content” of the 9 and 17 rules of the Council of Chalcedon, His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and of All Russia, Kirill, in his return message, stated: “Your interpretation of the allegedly your rights never had a general church riznaniya. A number of objections by authoritative church law commentators testify against your understanding of the appeal rights of the Constantinople See. ”

In his message, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church quotes the words of the eminent Byzantine canonist John Zonara: “The Constantinople [Patriarch] is recognized as a judge not at all over all metropolitans, but only over his subordinates. For neither the metropolitans of Syria, nor the Palestinians, nor the Phoenicians, nor the Egyptian ones, are attracted against the will to his court, but the Syrian are subject to the judgment of the Patriarch of Antioch, the Palestinian ones – to Jerusalem, and the Egyptian ones are judged by the Alexandrian, by whom they are ordained and subordinated. ”
The Patriarch of Constantinople and the modern Local Orthodox Churches do not recognize this privilege, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill notes.

“But appropriating unlawfully such a right, in this case you didn’t even bother to observe the existing canonical norms that determine the actions of the party receiving the appeal,” continued His Holiness. For example, it is known that Mikhail Denisenko continued his ministry after the ecclesiastical interdictions and excommunication imposed on him, which deprived himself of the right to appeal and, according to the basic norms of canon law, he himself condemned. “You expressed your agreement with Denisenko’s overthrow, although by that time you received his first appeal,” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill reminded the Primate of the Church of Constantinople. – In a letter to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II dated August 31, 1992, you said: “Our Holy Great Church of Christ, recognizing the fullness of the exclusive competence of your Most Holy Russian Church on this matter,
“In addition, the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople did not take into account the numerous problems of the canonical succession and moral character of the“ hierarchs ”that it took to communicate, despite the fact that the Church of Constantinople had previously recognized the importance of solving these issues for healing the Ukrainian schism and received information during the negotiations of the delegations of our Churches, ”said His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

According to him, the hasty and thoughtlessness of the appeals of the Ukrainian schismatics was shown by the fact that the decision of the Synod of the Church of Constantinople was “restored” in the bishop’s office Macarius Maletich. In official letters of the Patriarch, Patriarch Bartholomew calls him “the former metropolitan of Lviv,” and as such he attended the so-called “unifying council”. “Meanwhile, Macarius Maletich went into schism, being a priest of the canonical Church, and never had a canonical episcopal ordination. His “consecration”, as well as the “consecration” of a significant part of the “episcopate” of the so-called “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church”, adopted by the Church of Constantinople in communion, ascend, through its predecessors, to one dignified bishop, who committed these acts together with the impostor Viktor Chekalin, the former deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church, who never even had a priestly ordination, ”stated Patriarch Kirill. He stressed that accepting such persons into communion with the Church without considering the indicated circumstances undermines the canonical succession of ordinations and leads to grave, destructive consequences for all of world Orthodoxy.
“For centuries, the Russian Church was deeply grateful to the Holy Church of Constantinople for its contribution to the building of world Orthodoxy, its role in the Christian enlightenment of pagan Russia, for helping to develop the traditions of monasticism and theological education, His Holiness testified. “Now, however, our believers, both in Ukraine and in other countries, are bitterly disappointed because the historic Mother Church does not hear their voices. Hundreds of thousands of signatures of believers of Ukraine were brought to your residence in support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and with requests not to undermine its unity. The Ukrainian authorities tried to prevent the delivery of these letters, and you ignored them. And now you don’t want to hear the voice of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is on the threshold of new ordeals. ”
His Holiness Vladyka recalled that even now, under the far-fetched pretexts, archpastors and clergy in Ukraine are being called in for interrogations, blackmailing, threatening close people, conducting searches in temples and dwellings, putting pressure on families and children. A law came into force the other day, the purpose of which is to deprive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its name in order to conduct violent seizures of its churches under the guise of “voluntary transfer of communities”
“So you see the union of Orthodox Ukraine?”, Says His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the Primate of the Constantinople Orthodox Church.

“I spoke with you alone and with a few witnesses about the plans of the Church of Constantinople to legalize a split in Ukraine,” Patriarch Kirill continued. – Now, when these plans are largely implemented, it is possible that I’ll appeal to you for the last time in front of the entire Orthodox Church. In so doing, I am guided by the commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ: If your brother sins against you, go and face him between you and him alone … but if he does not listen, take with you one or two more, so that every word will be confirmed by the words of two or three witnesses; but if he does not listen to them, tell the church; and if he does not listen to the church, let it be to you as a pagan and tax collector (Matt. 18, 15-17). ”
His Holiness noted that the diptych of the Most Holy Patriarchs of Constantinople counts in itself dozens of names of great theologians, devotees and teachers of piety. Saints Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Proclus, Flavian the Confessor, John IV Postnick, Tarasius, Methodius, Photius and many others glorified the Most Holy Church of Constantinople by their service. But there were those who disgraced her. “Do not enter your formerly respected name in the same list with such inglorious bishops of Constantinople as Nestorius, the iconoclasts Anastasius, John VII and Theodotus, the Uniates Joseph II, Mitrofan II the Mother-killer and Gregory III Mama. Retreat now from communicating with the schismatics, refuse to participate in the political adventure of their legalization. And then the true Orthodox Church of Ukraine, headed by the Most Blessed Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, Onufry bless you,
He emphasizes: “If you act in accordance with the intentions set forth in your letter, you will forever lose the opportunity to serve the unity of the holy Churches of God, cease to be the First in the Orthodox world numbering hundreds of millions of believers, and the suffering you suffer from Orthodox Ukrainians will follow to the Last Judgment of our impartial Lord, and they will testify before You against Him. ”
“I pray with all my heart that this will not happen. It’s not too late to stop, ”His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia concludes his message to the Primate of the Church of Constantinople.

DECR Communication Service

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