Wednesday, April 25, 2018

UOC-USA issues strong statement on Ukrainian autocephaly

(UOC-USA) - Statement of the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine

To the Venerable Clergy, Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora:


We write to you all having been informed about recent events in Ukraine surrounding the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. If you have not yet heard or read anything about these events, which are filling the social websites and media in and beyond Ukraine, we hereby inform you that the President of Ukraine met in a day-long audience with His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, on Bright Monday – 9 April 2018. The result of this meeting was the beginning of the Patriarchate’s long-awaited consideration of Autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Upon his return to Ukraine, President Poroshenko immediately began the process of rallying the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament). All the hierarchs of two of the three jurisdictions and the vast majority of the Rada responded to the President’s emotional appeal to support the process of asking His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod of Constantinople to move forward with the process of granting a Tomos of Autocephaly to the Church in Ukraine, which has for 1030 years been the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, since 988 when our nation was baptized and confirmed into the Holy Orthodox Faith.

Not even under 332 years of non-canonical and often tortuous subjugation to a foreign Orthodox patriarchate could the faithful of Ukraine be convinced that they did not belong to the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This is simple history, as documented by generations of Patriarchs and Synods of Constantinople, which never abandoned its canonical rights and privileges in Ukraine.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, through releases on its own website and through the media has confirmed that the process of considering the Autocephalous status of the Church of Ukraine has begun, which will continue through the next meeting of the Holy Synod to be held in May.
President Poroshenko in all his public appearances and statements about these current events has been incredibly enthusiastic about the possibility of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine being granted even by the 1030th anniversary in July 2018 of the Baptism of Ukraine into the Orthodox Faith in 988 by Equal-to-the-Apostles, Great Prince Volodymyr.

The Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine has written a strong letter of support for the actions being taken by His All-Holiness and the Holy Synod of Constantinople regarding the possible granting of a Tomos of Autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. We have assured His All-Holiness of the unceasing prayers of not only the hierarchs, but also the millions of Ukrainian Orthodox clergy and faithful in and beyond the borders of Ukraine, for him personally during this process.

We invite our faithful to join us in this prayer:

Prayer for the Unification of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

"O Lord our God, You can see, as the invisible and visible enemies divided the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and with it all Ukrainian people. Help us to promote the unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy into a single Church, putting the cornerstone of apostolic rule that orders us to know that every nation, and among them the Ukrainian people, must have its first hierarch.

O Lord, inspire our separated brethren, so that they will unite around the Throne of Kyiv into a single Church and that Christian love would prevail among all of us, because You said: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another".

Look upon us, Lord the Lover of all mankind, and do not punish us for our iniquities, voluntary and involuntary, committed in knowledge and in ignorance. Let us have a true love amongst us, forgive us our trespasses and do not remember our transgressions.

Great Merciful Master, protect and preserve Ukraine from those who encroach on its independence and wants to divide it, as you have always protect the Christian countries. Let a single Ukrainian Orthodox Church be a strong spiritual foundation for the indivisible Ukraine and the unity of our people, let it enemies be scattered and let peace, harmony and unity prevail in us.

O Lord, You said: "For without me you can do nothing." Hear, o God, prayer of your faithful and bless the begun matter of the unity of the Orthodox in a single Church of Ukraine to lead to a successful conclusion. To His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ukrainian Orthodox Hierarchs, the President, the Verkhovna Rada, and all those who work for this, send wisdom and inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, and in the good cause of the recognition of the Ukrainian Church to bring everyone to close conclusion. For Yours it is to have mercy on and save us, our God and we glorify You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

With Archpastoral Blessings,

+YURIJ, Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
+ANTONY, Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora
+JEREMIAH, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Eparchies of Brasil and South America
+DANIEL, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Western Europe
+ILARION, Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
+ANDRIY, Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada


  1. Amazing, the global reach and diversity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Our founders in the faith apparently were diaspora, not missionaries.

    How long are the Ukrainan congregations abroad going to be "Ukrainian?" Same for the Romanians, Russians, Greeks, Carpatho-Russians! Do we measure this thru patrilineal or matrilineal lines?

    As conversions and out-marriages proceed, this gets more and more ridiculous. Thoughtful Protestants look at the mess and conclude individual discernment was right after all, or they sign up with the Western Patriarch and ask what anybody else is doing here.

    I've got no answers, but great and devout minds have had since 1453 to think about this and haven't.

  2. "I've got no answers, but great and devout minds have had since 1453 to think about this and haven't."

    One of the signatures is my bishop, and is a really good one (at least compared to 3 others I have experienced).

    Yes, 1453 is the nexus of all this: The collapse of the Imperium, the Church retaining and continuing on structurally/organizationally as if the Empire still existed, the flow of history into the modern nation state, the slow leveling of ethnicity yet-at-the-same-time the isolation of modern secular "culture" reinvigorating the "ethnic" impulse.

    Rome and it's protestant subsidiaries have gone down several alternate paths, but it is not like their answer to the collapse of the Empire is any more convincing.

    In the end I don't think it is all that important as far as our salvation. A unified Ukraine/Orthodox/Church, or not - His will be done...

  3. In the end I don't think it is all that important as far as our salvation. A unified Ukraine/Orthodox/Church, or not - His will be done...

    Agreed. I think the current "messiness" of American Orthodoxy is salutary in a way. Inevitably, parishes that function as ethnic clubs will change or disappear.

    Or maybe not. I've got an apocalyptic streak too. Maybe the hierarchs are waiting to see if this whole American experiment really works out before they decide what to do.

  4. isn't it time we placed Christianity before ethnicity? haven't we been in a time warp since 1453?

  5. There seems to be a very broad and organic desire for liturgies and, at some point, hierarchies that match the people's ethno-cultural background. Given the history of the Church, I don't think this is a bad thing. The Church is Local as well as Universal. But absent an immigrant group hunkering down and only marrying each other you are going to lose your kids to the extant culture by the second and third generations.

    The hierarchy in Jerusalem no longer reflects its parishes and it's a big problem. There are only two thousand Greek Orthodox in Turkey; surely they are not in-marrying in such a small pool. Or maybe they are. But if they are going to insist on being Greek and, perforce, not evangelizing, they should move the See to Athens. By contrast, I've read the few Antiochian parishes in Turkey perform the liturgies in the vernacular Turkic.

    Like most problems this is probably one that will solve itself over time. The alternative is a slow death of Orthodoxy or, at best, a revolving door of middle-aged converts.