Moscow, December 20, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has issued an appeal to the heads of other Orthodox Churches worldwide in the wake of Kiev's recent unification assembly, at which the Ukrainian authorities, backed by the Constantinople Patriarchate, created a new Ukrainian church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate.
"I am calling on you and the whole of your Holy Church not to recognize the recently created pseudo-church structure and not to enter into communion with it," the website of the Moscow Patriarchate quoted Patriarch Kirill as saying in his messages to Orthodox world leaders.
The unification assembly held in Ukraine delivered a heavy blow to canonical Orthodoxy there and in the rest of the world, the patriarch said.
"What actually happened there was a merger between two schismatic organizations, which became one organization. Fake bishops of the schismatic 'Kiev Patriarchate' and another non-canonical structure, the 'Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,' took part in that 'assembly,'" Patriarch Kirill said.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is led by universally recognized Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev, refused to take part in the event, calling it an "illegal gathering," he said.
The process of "granting autocephaly to Ukraine" was orchestrated by the head of the country's secular leadership in order to accomplish his own political goals, Patriarch Kirill said.
"The recent assembly only served to confirm the state's open interference in church life," he said.
Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko not only attended the assembly but also took a seat in the presidium and personally oversaw the event, Patriarch Kirill said. Another participant in the forum was Verkhovnaya Rada Speaker Andrey Parubiy, a member of a Greek Catholic Church, who announced on December 17 that the Ukrainian parliament would soon vote on a bill prohibiting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from continuing to use its current name.
"It is very unfortunate that representatives of the Constantinople Patriarchate attended that event, which was hostile to the church, in violation of holy canons and church regulations. Gallic Metropolitan Emmanuel presided over this gathering of dissenters. He was flanked on the right by President Poroshenko, who has received communion at the Greek Catholic Church, and on the left by excommunicated Filaret Denisenko and Makariy Maletich, who is not a bishop," he said.
The sad outcome of this "illegal gathering" was the election of the head of the "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" - the self-proclaimed Kiev Patriachate's schismatic priest S. P. Dumenko, who "received his pseudo-holy orders and even 'ordination' under the name of Yepifaniy from Filaret Denisenko, who, for his part, was defrocked and excommunicated," he said.
"This recent act of blatant lawlessness is being portrayed by the authorities of the country and the Church of Constantinople as the unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. However, in actual fact, no unification has occurred. The dissenters are still dissenters, and they remain outside the Church. And even having unified amongst themselves, they still remain a minority on the Orthodox map of Ukraine," the patriarch said, adding that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has twice as many parishes as this "new pseudo-church structure."
"We are witnessing illegal interference in the internal life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a brutal anti-canonical invasion into its realm, the deepening of church division among the Orthodox people, and an even greater split in Ukrainian Orthodoxy," Patriarch Kirill said.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church said he is confident that what is happening in Ukraine today is not a conflict of interests between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Constantinople Patriarchate, as some try to portray it, but "something far more dangerous."
"It is the Church of Constantinople's profound break with the Orthodox canonical tradition and patristic ecclesiology," he said.
"The time is coming when it will no longer be possible to keep silent, because what is happening before our eyes is a challenge to the whole Orthodox world. Without a doubt, the Ukrainian scenario may be applied to any other local Church in the future," Patriarch Kirill said, calling on people to pray for the "persecuted Ukrainian Orthodox Church."