Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has criticized officials of the Constantinople Patriarchate for interfering in church affairs in Ukraine. "Unfortunately, we see that hierarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate, who have recently visited Ukraine and communicated with representatives of state authorities and representatives of unrecognized church structures, in fact ignore the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," UOC chancellor Metropolitan Antony of Borispol and Brovary said in his interview posted on the UOC website.
Antony points out that the UOC is the major confession in Ukraine. As to the number of communities, this Church is one of the most numerous in the world. "So, we believe that our Church should be compulsory included in all possible negotiations on overcoming church schisms in Ukraine, "he warned, commenting on the recent visit of two representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. One of them supported the idea of creating a local Orthodox Church in the country.
Ukraine is one of the most Christian countries in Europe. It is traditionally Byzantine Orthodox, but it is very fragmented: the three biggest denominations are in turn loyal to Moscow (Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate), to Kiev (Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate, canonically unrecognized) and Constantinople (Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church). Finally, there is also the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, which is united to Rome.
Metropolitan Antony reminds that, according to the church canons, bishops of a local church can officially visit the territory of the other church only when it is approved by the church hierarchy working in the territory of the visit. Officials of the Constantinople Patriarchate did not coordinate their visit with UOC-MP leaders, he told the Interfax agency.
"Unfortunately, it is not the first time when bishops of the Constantinople Patriarchate visit Ukraine on Patriarch Bartholomew's instruction, but they do not inform the Ukrainian Orthodox Church about the visits," the Metropolitan said. He stressed that it is impossible to overcome church schism ignoring the only existing in Ukraine recognized Orthodox Church. "Experience shows that opening parallel structures of different local Churches on the same territory threatens both church and civil peace. We hope that in future leaders of the Ukrainian state and representatives of other local Churches will consider the position of hierarchs, clerics and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church". (N.A.)