Open letter to the representatives of the ROC in Ukraine
OPEN LETTER OF APPEAL BY METROPOLITAN ANTONII (MAKHOTA) THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF UKRAINE TO THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ROC IN UKRAINE IN KHMELNITSKY OBLAST
Appeal of the Metropolitan Anthony of Khmelnytskyi and Kamianets - Podilskyi of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to the leaders, clergy, and believers of the three dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine in Khmelnytskyi Oblast
Your Eminences Archbishops Anthony, Theodore, Eusebius, high-honored fathers - brothers in Christ!
The process of recognition of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the Universal Mother Church, which we all observed, has granted us an unwavering hope: our people can be saved in a Single Local Church. The unfortunate schism that has continued for 27 years must be inevitably terminated, and everything that split us and soured our relationships with bitterness should “be buried in oblivion”.
According to the dogmatically canonical understanding of Orthodox ecclesiology, there is the only one Church of Christ: “I believe ... in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church ...", the Head of which is our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is guided by the Holy Spirit.
Autocephaly does not replace the Universal Church; it is only a form of performing the hierarchical service in a certain territory for the sake of the salvation of believers. At the same time, the mystical unity of the Body of Christ is preserved.
Like a hybrid war, when the Russian Federation annexed the part of the territory of sovereign Ukraine, the ROC under the guise of canonicity breaks the chiton of the Church of Christ, opposing the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. We write “under the guise of canonicity” because the aspiration of autocephaly does not conflict with any existing canons, but, on the contrary, expresses the natural form of the existence of the Universal Church as the one Body of Christ.
The discussion concerns only the procedure for obtaining autocephaly. According to canon law, the President, the Verkhovna Rada and the episcopate have appealed to His Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, to provide the Ukrainian Church with the Tomos on Autocephaly. It is the path that is a canonical one, since we received the light of faith of Christ from Constantinople and until the 17th century we were under the archpastoral care of the Ecumenical Patriarch. And only the imperial actions of the Moscow kingdom in 1686 laid the foundation for today’s church confrontation in Ukraine.
As we can see from the consideration of the Ukrainian matter at the Synaxis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on September 1-3, 2018, at the Phanar, the letter of 1686 was provided under pressure and under special circumstances, and it said that the Moscow Patriarch was allowed to certify the Kiev Metropolitan. But this metropolitan had to further recognize the Ecumenical Patriarch as his Head and to be in his jurisdiction that was supposed to be evidenced by the mention of the name of His Holiness at the Divine Service. These conditions had not been met. No documents testifying to the “full transfer” of Kiev Metropolis to the jurisdiction of Moscow Patriarchate are known. This is a confirmation that the Ecumenical Patriarch does not recognize the authority of the Moscow Patriarch on the territory of modern Ukraine.
Therefore, beloved brothers in Christ, our responsibility before the Creator and history is to act in accordance with the truth of God, the canonical principles of the Church, the spirit of the commandments of Christ’s ministry and love. I urge you to effectively respond to the challenges of the time and join the creation of the Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which has become the place of salvation of the flock entrusted to us by the Lord, rather than building a new empire - the “Russian world”.
It is known that among the priests of the dioceses entrusted to you there are different considerations in the relation of this subject. There are those who believe that it is right to remain under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarch. Well, they have the right to make this choice. But there are many among you who are ready for the autocephalous existence of the Orthodoxy of Ukraine and are waiting for the final decision of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew on January 6. It is true that you are concerned about how this step will be perceived by former and new co-servers, whether the current parishes, ranks and titles, and the like, will remain with you. Our common enemies are spreading rumors that recently the spirit of “winners” and the spirit of pride in relation to all other Orthodox priests have reined. I assure you, brethren, that this is not at all the case. We have only the premonitions of our common victory, when we in the reunited Church, not in parallel, but together serve the God and our neighbors.
All organizational and other issues should be jointly resolved so as not to weaken, giving everyone the opportunity to serve better as they can. After all, this is not about accession, but about reunification. Of course, it will be a rather difficult process. But at present, on the path of “may all be one,” we are working together in those areas of church life that do not need communion, and it shows sincerity of intentions to our lay people. So the ice in our relationship begins to melt.
May the Lord Almighty continue to be our Helper and Patron!