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Autocephaly for Ukraine and the storm around it

On Thursday, October 11, the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate took a historic decision that opens the way for the Ukrainian Orthodox to unite and obtain autocephaly.

The Synod decreed to renew the decision already made that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine. Hierarchs, priests, and believers of the UOC-KP and the UAOC were declared by the Synod to be canonical and were allowed to freely communicate with the Orthodox world: the Synod decided “to accept and review the petitions of appeal of Filaret Denisenko, Makariy Maletych and their followers, who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy from all of the Autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church.” The head of the UOC-KP Filaret was recognized by the Synod as free from the anathema pronounced by Moscow. The Synod has also appealed “to all sides involved that they avoid appropriation of Churches, Monasteries and other properties, as well as every other act of violence and retaliation, so that the peace and love of Christ may prevail”.
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In his express commentary on the decisions of the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the leader of the UOC-KP, Patriarch Filaret, emphasized that now all those representatives of the church who want to receive a tomos of canonical autocephaly should gather for the united cathedral. Filaret said that he does not know the date when this cathedral may begin, but believes that this will happen in the near future. “I think the process of unification will be very fast. We will agree when we convene a cathedral,” Patriarch Filaret said.

In his Twitter, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko wrote: “Ukraine has a positive decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch and Synod on the united local Orthodox Church! What the Ukrainians have been dreaming about and our contemporaries have been praying for has finally come true: Ukraine has received autocephaly, it’s a victory of Ukraine, our common victory!”

Poroshenko also states that the issue of Tomos and autocephaly is a matter of Ukrainian independence. “The question of Tomos and autocephaly is a matter of our independence, this is a question of our national security, which is a matter of the whole world geopolitics, which is the fall of Third Rome as the most ancient conceptual request of Moscow for world domination,” the president wrote.

As expected, Russia’s reaction has been very harsh. A spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, Aleksandr Volkov, called the Synod’s decision catastrophic. The Russian Orthodox Church considers the decisions of Constantinople to be the legalization of the schism and declared that they will bear catastrophic harm, touching on the fate of millions of people not only in Ukraine, but throughout the Orthodox world. It has severed ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and has stopped commemorating the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch during its liturgies.

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