10 March 2006, 12:58
Ukrainian Orthodox Church chancellor against interference of the state into church affairs and ‘backstage deals’ with Constantinople
Moscow, March 10, Interfax - Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox church archbishop Mitrofan of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky queried statements of the media on the recent visit of the Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs Boris Tarasyuk to Turkey where Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople allegedly blessed him to play the role of mediator in the process of the Ukrainian churches’ unification.
‘The news of this blessing given to Minister Tarasyuk are hardly true. Patriarch cannot give his blessing to a state official for interference into internal church affairs’, archbishop Mitrofan said as cited by the press service of the canonical Ukrainian church.
He said that ‘many politicians today beginning with the president’ speak about necessity ‘to form the one local church’ and added that the overcoming of current divisions in Ukraine ‘is an exclusive affair of the Church that should be guided by church canons and rules’ in solution of the problem.
Politicians who try to interfere in the process ‘violate the canons, thus bringing harm’, archbishop Mitrofan underscored.
To illustrate such attempts, the church chancellor said: ‘delegations of state (Ukrainian - IF) officials have visited Patriarch Bartholomew several times, asking for his personal interference into the situation in Ukraine’, ‘while presidential secretariat officials launched an initiative to open church representations of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine without consultation with the Ukrainian Orthodox church.’
They say that ‘the Ukrainian president allegedly supported this initiative’; the former Ukrainian secretary of state Alexander Zinchenko has recently acknowledged the fact of such talks, archbishop Mitrofan noted.
As ‘Constantinople made no official statements’, archbishop Mitrofan cannot consider ‘backstage talks and deals’ as ‘official position of Constantinople’.
The hierarch says: ‘we cannot but feel discontent’ with representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox church in the USA under jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople, including archbishop Vsevolod of Scopelos (called archbishop of Maidan), who visit Ukraine ‘behind the back of the primate of the biggest canonic Ukrainian Orthodox church’ metropolitan Vladimir and make statements lacking official comments of the Patriarchate of Constantinople even after ‘letters of inquiry from the Moscow Patriarchate to the patriarch of Constantinople’.
‘Constantinople decided to keep silence. They neither deny nor confirm anything’, archbishop Mitrofan said. He believes that ‘as Constantinople has taken up mission of uniting Orthodoxy in Ukraine it should act openly. Its policy should be transparent so that Orthodox believers know it’.
According to archbishop Mitrofan, the ‘Baltic scenario’ (parallel Orthodox church established by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Estonia in 1993 - IF) in Ukraine ‘destabilizes the situation even more’. However, the UOC representative doubts such steps would be taken as ‘Constantinople’s situation is very difficult’.
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