2018-12-13 18:02:00

Ukrainian Orthodox Church's main proponent of independence from Moscow rejects version of autocephaly proposed by Constantinople

Kiev, December 13, Interfax - Metropolitan Sophrony of Cherkassy and Kanev, known as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's main proponent of the idea of independence from the Moscow Patriarchate, said he believes the charter of the "unified local church" written in Istanbul does not meet the expectations of supporters of autocephaly.

"If there is no real independence, Ukrainians do not need a tomos from Constantinople," the online publication Glavkom quoted Metropolitan Sophrony as saying.

Real autocephaly (independence) would imply that the church prepares chrism used during sacraments on its own rather than receiving it from another church, he said.

Metropolitan Sophrony also said the church must be able to ordain its own bishops, without asking for Constantinople's blessing.

All bishops' chairs, monasteries, and communal churches, together with their priors and clerics, must be treated as an integral part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, so all aspects of their functioning and living must be decided exclusively by the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, he said.

"We would be sincerely grateful for this kind of independence to Constantinople, as well as to other local Orthodox Churches that would recognize its equality. There can be no other independence, and we don't need it in a different form," Metropolitan Sophrony said.

The unification assembly at which Constantinople, with the support of the Ukrainian authorities, plans to create a church independent of Moscow, will take place in Kiev on December 15. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) has refused to take part in the assembly from the start, and only some of its hierarchs have displayed interest in the idea of autocephaly. Meanwhile, there have been media reports that the statute of the nascent church implies that it will be much more dependent on Constantinople than the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is currently dependent on the Moscow Patriarchate.