The heads of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of the Kyivan and the Moscow Patriarchates – Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko) and Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) – hope to overcome the church division.
Patriarch Filaret has written to the bishops, clergy and laity of the UOC-MP present at the Jubilee Council on July 8 with a proposition to find church unity and a fruitful dialogue, while the head of the UOC-MP Metropolitan Volodymyr has in fact answered him in his report at that council by stating that the position of the UOC-MP is to unite all Orthodox Christians in the bosom of one canonical church through the repentance of those who separated.
Patriarch Filaret in his greeting address noted the 20th anniversary since the November 1-3, 1991, Council of the UOC (then still one church), which unanimously adopted a resolution about its autocephaly.
“Some of you were present at this council and signed the resolution. Two decades of church life have shown that the resolution on autocephaly was correct. This is evident in the fact that former opponents of this resolution are gradually become supporters,” writes Patriarch Filaret.
However, during the last 20 years, summed up the head of the Kyivan Patriarchate, the Moscow Patriarchate “does not actually want to hear to communal voice of the Ukrainian church, does not search for a way to resolve the urgent problems,” tries to “at any cost, even to the detriment of Orthodoxy, maintain its power over the UOC,” so that its status of independence and self-governance “is not filled with real meaning and so that the UOC-MP remains part of the Moscow Patriarchate in the way the Ukrainian SSR was part of the Soviet Union.”
Patriarch Filaret stated that in October 2009, “with great enthusiasm Ukraine greeted the beginning of a dialogue between the Kyivan Patriarchate and the UOC-MP.” But then, he said, “all saw well that Moscow feared a fruitful and constructive dialogue and has done everything possible to destroy it.”
Patriarch Filaret called the UOC-MP to move away from Moscow’s “way of animosity” and “to choose its own path of reconciliation and the find church unity through a fruitful dialogue and understanding, by way of the ministry of Orthodoxy, not the ‘Russian World.’”
On July 8, the head of the UOC-Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Volodymyr in fact answered the head of the UOC-KP Patriarch Filaret in his report to the Jubilee Council of the UOC.
The metropolitan, like Patriarch Filaret, noted the importance of the UOC’s status of independence and self-governance, which it received from the ROC in 1990. He did not, however, mention the Hierarchical Council of 1991, when the bishops of his council appealed to the ROC with a request to raise its status to that of an autocephalous Orthodox Church.
On the contrary, the metropolitan noted as one of the main objectives of the council of July 8, 2011, to get the approval of the ROC and the UOC at least of the resolutions that were adopted regarding the canonical status of the UOC in 1990. As is well known, these resolutions are interpreted differently by the ROC (usually decreased) than by the UOC (usually augmented).
Speaking about the division, Metropolitan Volodymyr said that Orthodox Christians who found themselves outside the UOC-MP, also “praise the common faith with us.” However, due to the continuation of the division, they “cannot achieve the fullness of ecclesiasticism, which is given to someone through the grace of the Holy Spirit.” “We will pray for you, even if you do not want this prayer,” said Metropolitan Volodymyr, so that God “unites the Church, unites the people.”
“Demonstrating the willingness to start a constructive dialogue with non-canonical church structures,” the UOC, according to Metropolitan Volodymyr, “simultaneously retains its principled position,” which “was and remains unchanged”: the unification of all Orthodox Christians in the bosom of a single canonical church by returning to it those who separated from it. The way back involves repentance, which is not a “humiliating procedure,” said the metropolitan. The UOC-MP is “ready to forget the wounds” that were inflicted on it by those who separated from it, reports Religion in Ukraine.