The ceremony yesterday at the Phanar. Poroshenko: Today Ukraine assumes spiritual independence, after having won the political independence of 1991. Bartholomew: Fighting for unity and peace of the Ukrainian flock, but also working for the peaceful coexistence with the patriarchate of Moscow.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) - With the delivery of the Tomos of Autocephaly to Metropolitan Epifanios, proclaimed Metropolitan of Kiev and Ukraine, the adventure of a new Church begins in the difficult and troubled Orthodox world. In the so-called Diptycha, the order in the ranking of the Orthodox Churches, the Ukrainian Church takes last place, the 15th, since the last arrived, which includes about 23 million.
The Tomos was delivered during the Orthodox liturgy, concelebrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the new primate Epifanios, in the presence of the Ukrainian President Poroshenko, a Christian of Greek-Byzantine Catholic confession. After the signing of the Tomos by the ecumenical patriarch, President Poroshenko declared that today Ukraine assumes spiritual independence, after having won the political independence of 1991.
Autocephaly is granted according to the orthodox canons codified in the Fourth Ecumenical Synod (451 AD). It should be remembered that the first millennium the universal Church was managed by the so-called pentarchy (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Church of Cyprus).
After the first millennium and the schism between Rome and Constantinople, the autocephalias that emerged from the fall of Byzantium were granted by Constantinople. The first autocephaly was that of Moscow in 1586; then followed Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Georgia, etc., all granted by Constantinople.
In his homily, Bartholomew said to all those present that a new page opens for Ukraine and then turning to the new primate Epifanios reminded him that Divine Providence reserved a great privilege for him, making "part of the autocephalous churches as the 15th autocephalous Orthodox Church ".
"Therefore - added the patriarch - you are asked to fight for the unity and peace of their faithful and at the same time to work for peaceful coexistence with those brothers who must continue to remain in the ranks of the Church that belongs to His Beatitude and brother the patriarch of Moscow. So you have to create all those conditions for achieving the reconciliation of everyone. In short, you must operate with only ecclesiological criteria, dominated by charity and sacrifice. And you must never forget the benefits you have drawn from your Mother Church of Constantinople ".
"The history of the Orthodox Church - the patriarch continued - is a story of freedom and salvation. And above all remember that this Tomos of autocephaly that is given to you, does not constitute a symbol of power, but is a symbol of charity, of sacrifice for the salvation of the flock of our Lord throughout Ukraine ".
"And we - he concluded - from our modest headquarters in the Phanar, center of Orthodoxy, will follow you with affection and offer help when you seek it. Because we want sincere cooperation for the glory of our Lord and the salvation of His flock "
In his reply, Metropolitan Epifanios recalled that the Ukrainians received their faith from the mother Church of Constantinople which, as he said, "gave us the Orthodox Christian faith, the succession of the Apostles, the magisterium sanctioned by the Ecumenical Synods and the teachings of the Fathers of the Church".
The ball now passes to the Synods of the other 13 Orthodox Churches for the approval of the autocephaly granted by Constantinople. The Russians have already expressed their "no" and it seems that it will be followed by the Poles, Czechoslovakians, Serbs and Antiochines. The reasons seem more geopolitical than ecclesiological. But as the great old sages say, everything in the Orthodox planet is smoothed over time.