Resolution of the Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of November 13, 2018

The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, gathered at the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on November 13, 2018, and after hearing His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv and All Ukraine discuss the challenges that have arisen in recent times before the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, adopted the following:

1. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is canonical and recognised by the Local Orthodox Churches, while serving its ministry to God and to the people of Ukraine, fundamentally supports independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is present in all regions of Ukraine and unites both controlled and uncontrolled territories of the Ukrainian state, experiencing  all the joys and sufferings together with its citizens.

2. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is endowed with all the rights of independence and self-rule, which today are needed for fruitful service to God and the people of Ukraine.

3. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has consistently advocated the healing of the schism, for the restoration of Church unity, that is, for a single Church. However, the restoration of the unity of Ukrainian Orthodoxy should not mean the transformation of the Church into an element of politics or propaganda, as this contradicts the nature of the Church. The Church is convinced that the overcoming of Church separation should take place without the intervention of state, political and other external forces.

4. The Council of Bishops opposes any attempt to change the name of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as has already been declared by senior government  politicians, and by other manifestations of discrimination against the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the legislative level. If the relevant bills are adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will protect its rights by all legal means provided for in the “Fundamentals of the Social Concept of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”, the legislation of Ukraine and the European Convention on Human Rights.

5. The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church believes that the decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on October 11, 2018 concerning the Ukrainian Church question is null and void and does not have any canonical basis. In particular, the decision to establish the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the territory of Ukraine is the result of a speculative interpretation of church history.  The decision to remove the anathemas and other church bans from the schism  leaders and the recognition of the pseudo-Cheirotonia that they underwent during their schism – as being canonical,  is a consequence of a distorted interpretation of the Orthodox canons. The history of the Orthodox Church does not know of any precedent where schism has been overcome by mere legalisation. By adopting such anti-canonical decisions, recognising the schismatics in their current state of ‘ordination’, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, according to church canons, has embarked upon a path of schism itself. In this regard, eucharistic communion between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople is deemed impossible at present and thereby ceases.

6. We consider unacceptable the unlawful interference of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate into the internal affairs of another Local Church and attempts to resolve the Ukrainian church issue with the participation of state power and schismatics, in the process, ignoring the voice of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Instead, it is sad to admit that the hundreds of thousands of appeals from the faithful of our Church that were sent to Patriarch Bartholomew with the call not to legitimise the schism under the pretext of the creation of autocephaly , have all gone unnoticed.

7. The Council of Bishops  emphasizes that the process of the so-called Tomos of autocephaly is artificial, imposed from the outside, and does not reflect internal church necessity. It will not bring real church unity  but will only deepen division and intensify conflicts among the people of Ukraine. In such conditions, it is impossible to attach the episcopate, clergy and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to these processes.

8. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church adheres to the principle of a canonical approach to overcoming church separation. The basis of this approach lies in the need for those who return from schism to repent. The Church doors are never closed before Orthodox  Christians who strive for spiritual perfection.

9.  The Council of Bishops states that the illegal actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople are leading to a deep church crisis both within Ukraine and throughout world Orthodoxy. We pray that the voice of the multimillion flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be heard, and that the actions that have been perpetrated by the Patriarchate of Constantinople to date,  be corrected.

10. The Council of Bishops  calls on the Patriarchate of Constantinople to engage in dialogue with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and for the brotherly participation of all other Local Orthodox Churches for the purpose of  jointly resolving this problem.

11. The Council of Bishops asks the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv and All Ukraine to appeal to the  Primates of the other Local Orthodox Churches with regards to the crisis situation that has unfolded in Ukrainian church life as a result of  uncanonical interference from the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate.

12. The Council of  Bishops calls upon all the faithful flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to strengthen   their prayers, to preserve unity among themselves and preserve loyalty to the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ and not to be afraid of possible trials and tribulations , remembering the words of the Lord and our Saviour Jesus Christ: “Be courageous, for I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).

November 13, 2018,

Kyiv

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