Friday, July 1, 2022

UOC-MP attempt to go it alone receives Russian response

Moscow does bring up a good point. A body can't make a decision on its own to be autocephalous. There has to be an appeal somewhere, whether that be to the body they wish to leave or a body set up to receive such petitions. The UOC-MP has no chance of a positive reception from the Russian Church and it has (given the existence of the EP-backed OCU) no chance of going it alone with the blessing of a tomos from Constantinople. So now we have the OCU, the new UOC body that has separated itself from Moscow, and some unknown number of believers who will remain in the UOC-MP system even as its primate has departed. 

(eurasiareview) - To no one’s surprise, the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church denounced the declaration of independence by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate as illegal, but it then took an action that will likely have the effect of making that declaration irreversible (

At a meeting of the Holy Synod, the Moscow Patriarchate unilaterally removed the bishoprics and parishes in southeastern Ukraine from the UOC MP and transferred them to the direct control of the Moscow Patriarchate, an action many Ukrainians are certain to view as both offensive and an implicit recognition of the independence of the rest of the UOC’s independence.

To the extent that Ukraine is within the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, this action by the Holy Synod is entirely legal; but to the extent that Moscow is trying to maintain or more precisely restore its control over the UOC MP, it cannot fail to have the opposite effect because it undercuts UOC MP efforts to present itself as a Ukrainian church.

At the very least, this Moscow action will make it less likely that the Orthodox world in Ukraine will follow the Estonian model and have, all Orthodox canon law to the contrary, and have two autocephalous churches on its territory, the UOC MP and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and more likely that the UOC MP will dissolve and its members join the OCU.

If that happens, the ROC MP will cease to be the largest Orthodox church in the world in terms of bishoprics and parishes, ceding that place to the UOC, and lose all the financial resources and influence that retaining control over Orthodoxy in Ukraine would have given it.

And also...

(ROC) - On June 7, 2022, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church discussed the development of the situation following the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that took place on May 27 in Kiev (Minutes No. 58).

The Synod was grieved to note that the hierarchs, clergy, monastics and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church continue enduring the pressure put on her by Ukrainian state officials and the extremistically tuned part of the Ukrainian society, reports.

The Holy Synod expressed support for all the hierarchs, clergy, monastic and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who, aware of the need to observe the canonical order, seek to adhere to the order defined by the Charter of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia issued on October 27, 1990, and the canonical norm of the liturgical mention of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (see Protodeutera 15).

The Synod reiterated that the decision to change the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church can be adopted only in a canonical procedure including a resolution of the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church and stressed that arbitrary actions to change the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church can lead to the emergence of a new schism within her. The Holy Synod noted that the same was noticed by the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which pointed out in its statement of May 12, 2022, that any discussion on the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church should not go beyond the canonical framework nor should it lead to new divisions in the Church.

The Synod also called upon all the hierarchs, clergy, monastics and laity to an ardent prayer for the preservation of church unity. 


  1. But but but....there IS no "canonical procedure" for autocephaly - not in the canons themselves (where the word does not even occur). The "procedure", such as it is, is just a historical hodgepodge of "procedures" and events post-Empire, made up in a "as we go along" way.

    Besides, why can't a body (Body) make up its own mind and why must there be an "appeal" to some other body (Body)? Particularly in this particular context within the MP, given the MP's self proclaimed (dare I use the word "formal"?) "federation" ethno-national ecclesiology. The logical, practical, and spiritual direction of the MP's ecclesiology is this very circumstance!!

    Perhaps the ecclesiological absurdity of the Ukraine will finally be what prompts world Orthodoxy to stop pretending we are truly "conciliar" and a REAL "Ecumenical Council" will occur and an actual post-empire Unam Sanctam of the Church will be explicitly worked for the world as it has been for 1300 years....nah.

  2. A cynical reading might be that the MP's plan is the same as the Russian state's: for Ukraine to be conquered and absorbed into Russia, and the UOC absorbed into the MP.

  3. So...what then of Moscow's own autocephaly, self-declared and later regularized by the other churches? It takes a lot of chutzpah to condemn how you yourself went about the exact same thing. This really is just a copying of a historical model by the UOC-Not?-MP, assuming of course that it's not just a tactic to hold off legal dissolution for the duration of the war. (Although that's not possible under the Ukrainian constitution as it currently exists.)

  4. Looking at the history of recently established autocephalous churches (recently, as in within the last 600 years), it is clear that the normal pattern is a local church within a nation begins functioning as an autocephalous church, and after some period of time the previously existing autocephalous churches (sometimes grudgingly) agree that it is so. This is what happened with Moscow (Constantinople was Uniate for a while, Moscow set up on its own to preserve Orthodoxy, and when Orthodoxy was restored to the See of Constantinople, Moscow was recognized as autocephalous), and likewise with Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia,... as they gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, set up their own local church, without reference to the still-enthralled-by-the-Sultan Ecumenical Patriarch, and were subsequently recognized. The same thing should work for Ukraine.

    Now, the real problem is how to get proper autocephalous churches in countries in the New World where we now have "jurisdictions" -- colonies of almost every autocephalous church in existence all with overlapping dioceses.