Ukrainian Orthodox Church Declares Full Independence from the Moscow Patriarchate : Urges Dialogue with Orthodox Church of Ukraine

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OCP News Service – 28/5/22

Kiev-Ukraine: The Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) has declared full independence from the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). The Council also urged to open dialogue between UOC and Orthodox Church of Ukraine on certain conditions. The Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church held on May 27, 2022 in Kyiv, after considering the issues aroused as a result of the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine approved the below decisions.

The Council condemns war as a violation of God’s commandment “Thou shalt not kill!” (Exodus 20:13) and expresses condolences to all those who suffered in the war.
The Council appeals to the authorities of Ukraine and the authorities of the Russian Federation to continue the negotiation process and search for a strong and sensible word that could stop the bloodshed.
We disagree with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on the war in Ukraine.
The Council adopted appropriate amendments to the Statute on the Administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which testify to the full independence and autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Council approves the resolutions of the Councils of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the decisions of the Holy Synods of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which met after the last Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (July 8, 2011). The Council approves the activities of the Department of Affairs and Synodal Institutions of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Council is also considering the restoration of peace in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
During the period of martial law, when the relations between the dioceses and the ecclesiastical center are complicated or absent, the Council considers it expedient to give eparchial bishops the right to decide on certain issues of eparchial life within the competence of the Holy Synod or the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 
Recently, a new pastoral challenge has been particularly acute for our Church. During the three months of the war, more than 6 million Ukrainian citizens were forced to go abroad. Mostly Ukrainians from the southern, eastern and central regions of Ukraine. Many of them are faithful to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. That is why the Kyiv Metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church receive appeals from various countries with a request to open Ukrainian Orthodox parishes. It is obvious that many of our compatriots will return to their homeland, but many will stay for permanent residence abroad. In this regard, the Council expresses its deep conviction that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church cannot leave its faithful without spiritual care, must be with them in their trials and organize church communities in the diaspora.

Aware of the special responsibility before God, the Council expresses its deep regret over the lack of unity in Ukrainian Orthodoxy. The Council perceives the existence of a schism as a deep painful wound on the church body. It is especially unfortunate that the recent actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Ukraine, which resulted in the formation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, only deepened misunderstandings and led to physical confrontation. But even in such crisis situations, the Council does not lose hope of resuming dialogue. In order for the dialogue to take place, the OCU representatives need to:
To stop the seizure of churches and forced transfers of parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
To realize that their canonical status, as enshrined in the “Statute of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, is in fact non-autocephalous and significantly inferior to the freedoms and opportunities in the implementation of church activities provided by the Statute of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
To resolve the issue of canonicity of the hierarchy of the PCU, because for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as for most Local Orthodox Churches, it is quite obvious that to recognize the canonicity of the hierarchy of the PCU it is necessary to restore the apostolic succession of its bishops.
The Council expresses its deep conviction that the key to the success of the dialogue must be not only the desire to restore church unity, but also the sincere desire to build one’s life on the principles of Christian conscience and moral purity.

Till 27/5/2022, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church enjoyed higher autonomy within the Russian Orthodox Church. However, with the new deceleration by the Council of Bishops, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have become an autocephalous (fully independent) Church.

OCP News Service

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