Moscow, October 26, Interfax - Metropolitan Sofrony of Cherkassy and Kanev said he is ready to participate in a unification assembly but strongly opposes the election of Filaret Denisenko, the leader of the non-canonical "Kiev Patriarchate", as head of the unified local church in Ukraine.
"I don't know now, I will look at the circumstances. There is an intention [to participate in the assembly] to save [...] But if there are only six of us, our voice will be very weak there. Therefore, everyone representing our church should be there, whether or not they want to be, to elect the head. Because if Filaret becomes head, I don't accept and I don't understand such a church," Metropolitan Sofrony told the Ukrainian publication Glavcom.
He said that other Ukrainian Orthodox Church archbishops do not share his views on autocephaly.
"If it's so important, none of our archbishops share this opinion [on the independent Ukrainian church]. I don't know who raised them and how, why they have such an opinion. Whatever is put forward [to be voted on] at the Synod in Moscow - they unquestioningly accept everything," Sofrony said.
Moreover, even those few hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who positioned themselves as supporters of a church independent of Moscow are now silent, he said. "I will tell you more: they are all now crawling back, like crawdads, they are scared. None of them will go [to attend the Assembly], you will see," Metropolitan Sofrony said.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church's affiliation with the Moscow Patriarchate is now only an encumbrance, given the former's many parishes and de facto independence.
"Just listen to that: 12,000 parishes! And if you add the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, it will be the biggest one among all Orthodox Churches in the whole world. We have three lavras. We have a lot of believers and monasteries, we have very many monks. Why can't we run ourselves? Although our situation is good now. We are not dependent on Moscow for anything. But one word spoils all the porridge, which is very tasty. This word is 'Moscow.' If it is an encumbrance, talk to the patriarch. Tell him let's split the good way. Manifest your will, don't sever relations with Constantinople, act right! We are brothers. But no! There is no such understanding. [...] I don't know why that is," the metropolitan said.
He has thus become the second archbishop of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church to say he may join the "unified local church" being created by Constantinople. Metropolitan Aleksander Drabinko, former secretary of the late Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, recently made a similar statement on Radio Liberty. "I am inclined to believe that if everything goes the canonical way, as it is going now, I don't see any obstacles to becoming a participant in this local, unified, undivided Ukrainian church," he said.