12/17/2020, 09.13
UKRAINE - RUSSIA
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Two years on from autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodox Church

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Celebrations in Kiev commemorating the recognition granted by Bartholomew I. Greetings and online speeches of the five Orthodox Churches who have given their recognition. Ilarion admits the Russians "serious mistake" at the Pan-Orthodox Council of Crete in 2016. Epifanyj asks Bartholomew to change the status of the Kiev Metropolia, elevating it to Patriarchate. Greater collaboration with the Greek-Catholic Church.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - On December 15, the historic recognition of the Tomos of autocephaly granted by the patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I (Archontonis), to the metropolitan of the new National Church Epifanyj Dumenko), was commemorated in Kiev. The granting of autonomy was decreed following the Unification Council, which took place in Kiev on December 15, 2018, although the Tomos was solemnly delivered at the Phanar Cathedral on January 6, 2019.

The representatives of the new Ukrainian Orthodox Church met where the Council met, in the ancient Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Kiev, respecting the Covid-19 social distancing measures, for a brief Moleben prayer to the Mother of God (photo 2), and then moved to the adjacent conference room. Metropolitan Epifanyj (photo 1), given the difficult situation of the pandemic, connected online with the representatives of the other Orthodox Churches have recognized Ukrainian autocephaly.

A maxi-screen was installed in the room (photo 3-4), for the live link up with the ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew himself, as well as the patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros, the head of the Hellenic Church, Archbishop Ieronimos (recently recovered from coronavirus), and the head of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos. Congratulations for the “newborn” local Ukrainian Church rang out, with no mention of the various internal and external conflicts within the Churches, linked above all to the adversities in Moscow.

It is no coincidence that two days ago Metropolitan Ilarion (Alfeev), head of the department for external ecclesiastical relations of the patriarchate of Moscow, admitted to journalists the Russians "serious mistake" in not seeking to clarify the issue of autocephaly in the preparatory commissions for the Pan-Orthodox Council of Crete in 2016. In fact, the Russian Church decided to withdraw from the Council at the last moment. According to Ilarion, the Russians were wrong to trust Bartholomew, who had promised to leave the issue of the autocephaly of the new Churches to the local Churches, without claiming to decide for the entire Orthodox world; Moscow would thus have decided autonomously on the Ukrainian question.

The Greek Metropolitan of Gallia Emmanuil (Adamakis), who two years ago intervened as delegate of the ecumenical patriarch to preside over the Unification Council, participated in the celebrations in Kiev. Metropolitan Emmanuil also met with the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk, to speak about the collaboration between Greek-Catholics and autocephalous Orthodox in Ukraine.

The Archbishop of Pamphilia Daniil (Zelinsky), who leads the community of Orthodox Ukrainians in the USA, under Constantinopolitan jurisdiction, was also present at the 2018 Council with Emmanuil. Daniil was also appointed Patriarchal Exarch for Ukraine two years ago by Bartholomew, and he too attended the celebrations; he had expressed himself in various interviews in favour of a future unification between the autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine.

The celebration in Kiev showed for the first time the unity of the five Orthodox Churches with which the patriarchate of Moscow broke Eucharistic communion, and in the interventions good wishes several hopes for an even greater extension of this unity for the next anniversary rang out.

Meanwhile, in breaking news: yesterday, Epifanyj asked Bartholomew to change the status of the Kiev Metropolia, elevating it to Patriarchate.

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