Kiev, December 7, Interfax - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has forwarded a letter to Metropolitan Onufry, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC, Moscow Patriarchate), informing him that he will not be able to carry his current title after the head of Ukraine's "local autocephalous church" has been elected.
"Addressing you as 'Your Eminence Metropolitan of Kiev', in the form of dispensation and mercy, I inform you that after the election of the Ukrainian church head by a body, which will consist of priests and lay people, you will no longer be able from an ecclesiological and canonical standpoint to continue carrying the title of metropolitan of Kiev, which nonetheless you still carry today in violation of the terms outlined in the official documents of 1686," Patriarch Bartholomew said in his letter.
The patriarch went on to ask Metropolitan Onufry to "immediately and in the spirit of concord and unity" participate in the founding assembly of the unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church alongside other UOC bishops and the elections of its head. The patriarch also allowed the metropolitan "to be a candidate for this post."
The patriarch also asked Metropolitan Onufry and other UOC bishops to enter into communion with Kiev Patriarchate leader Metropolitan Filaret and former Archbishop of Lvov Makariy.
In conclusion, Patriarch Bartholomew expressed confidence that Metropolitan Onufry would recognize the Constantinople Patriarchate's decision to heal the Ukrainian schism through creating a new Orthodox church in Ukraine.
Metropolitan Alexander (Drabinko), one of the few UOC bishops who want Ukraine to have a church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate, published a photocopy of Patriarch Bartholomew's letter on his Facebook page on Thursday evening. However, the letter is dated October 12, which means that it was written the day after the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate abrogated the ordinance of 1686 that put the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, announced the opening of a mission in Kiev, and rehabilitated the leaders of the unrecognized Ukrainian Orthodox churches.