02/25/2014, 00.00
UKRAINE - RUSSIA

Change in leadership of Ukrainian Church linked to Moscow, which opens to dialogue

Marta Allevato
The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Church elects Metropolitan Onofrio locum tenens to substitute an ailing Vladimir. A special commission for dialogue with the other two Orthodox Churches, the autocephalous and the Kiev Patriarchate, also established. According to the editor of the Moscow Patriarchate Journal, Sergei Chapnin, this is an unexpected event of huge importance that could affect the religious and social situation of the country.

Moscow (AsiaNews ) - "The consequences of Euromaidan for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate (COU -PM)  have proven much more serious than the choice of a "locum tenens" of the office of Metropolitan of Kiev", according to Sergei Chapnin, director of the  Moscow Patriarchate Journal.  February 24 , the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Church announced a change in the leadership of the Ukrainian Church, linked to Moscow: Metropolitan Onofrio replaces Metropolitan Vladimir, who has been sick for a long time. Officially, the members of the Holy Synod went to the hospital where Vladimir is in care and decided that he is no longer able to continue to serve as the primate of the Ukrainian Church. The Metropolitan of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna, Onufry (in 2009 among the candidates to follow Alexis II Patriarch of Moscow), was elected locum tenens of the seat of Kiev by secret ballot, as provided for by the Charter of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, agencies report. The official press release adds that Onofrio has received the blessing of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill , in a phone call that followed his election: " His Holiness wishes him to have God's help in supporting his responsibilities in service of the Church in a difficult moment for the Ukrainian people".

Commenting to AsiaNews, Chapnin pointed out that at the same meeting, the Holy Synod decided to form a Commission of official dialogue with the representatives of other non-canonical Orthodox Churches, ie the Ukrainian Church - Kiev Patriarchate (COU-PK) and the Ukrainian autocephalous Church (COUA) . "The political events have so profoundly shocked the entire Ukrainian society, that they have also had a profound impact on the life of the Church - says Chapnin - Until relatively recently it seemed that this process would be slow, but what happened February 24 has amazed many". "  am referring especially to the decisions of the Synod of the Ukrainian Church - Moscow Patriarchate, which have seriously changes Church" says the journalist.  He believes that what is significant is not so much Onofrio's election which he terms as "quite predictable" - but that it took place "right now".

"What was totally unexpected - continues Chapnin - was the formation of a Commission for official dialogue with the representatives of the two other non-canonical Churches". The Synod has explained that it is a response to the February appeal 22, by the Ukrainian Church - Kiev Patriarchate for the "urgent need to overcome the division in the Orthodox Church in the country." "As far as I can judge - noted the director - young and educated bishops, priests and lay people, are on the Commission, whose job is to conduct a real dialogue. If the negotiations, which will no doubt be very complicated, are successful, this could have huge influence on the religious and social situation in Ukraine". As noted by the Interfax news agency, the preparations for the dialogue between COU-PM and COU-PK began in 2009.

While many are wondering whether these decisions have been made with Moscow's blessing, Chapnin points out that now in Russia, "we will have to understand and accept that the path of Ukrainian Orthodoxy does not coincide with or imitate Russian Orthodoxy". "For me, this is already evident today ," he concluded.

 

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