Kiev, December 20, Interfax - It is premature to celebrate the creation of a local church in Ukraine, as it may lose its real independence, said Metropolitan Sofroniy of Cherkassy and Kanev, who has been the main supporter of autocephaly in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for many years.
"We all need to see the recent events without euphoria, in a balanced way, so that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is as independent as all other local churches, free from any outside influence," Metropolitan Sofroniy said in a statement on Thursday.
According to earlier reports, the charter of the new church, which was published ahead of the unification assembly, showed that it will be much more dependent on Constantinople than the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is dependent on the Moscow Patriarchate.
Ukraine has now gained state independence, so there is "every reason" to discuss the creation of an independent Ukrainian church, the metropolitan said. "Throughout the centuries, Ukrainian history was part of the history of the Russian empire; from a political viewpoint, there was no other way of getting rid of Constantinople's excessive control on native Ukrainian soil," he said.
Metropolitan Sofroniy said it is reasonable to ordain priests without obtaining Constantinople's blessing.
He also said that all cathedrals, monasteries, churches, and other church property should be regarded as property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. "Therefore, all organizational, personnel, and other issues associated with the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church should be resolved solely by the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, without any outside interference," the metropolitan said.
This also applies to holy chrism used in church rituals. "It is important that it be made at the Kiev-Perchesk Lavra, as was done before 1917, instead of being brought from Constantinople, as they propose," he said.
"We will be sincerely grateful to the Constantinople [church] and other local churches that are ready to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as equal in everything with respect to church life, for such independence, full, not partial," Metropolitan Sofroniy said.