In its session of January 23, 2010, the Holy Synod of the UOC - Kyiv Patriarchate considered the results of the work of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission that met on December 10-16, 2009 in Chambésy (Switzerland), at the Center of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The issues of autocephaly, autonomy and the way of their declaring, and the issue of the Diptychs were the subject matter of the commission’s work. In follow-up of consideration of the commission’s work results the Holy Synod of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate adopted respective resolutions (Journal №1) and the Addresses to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the Primates of the other Local Orthodox Churches.
JOURNAL No. 1
SESSION OF THE HOLY SYNOD
OF THE UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH -
of January 23, 2010 chaired by
His Holiness Patriarch FILARET
of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine
The report of His Holiness Patriarch Filaret of Kyiv and all Rus-Ukraine on the session of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission at the Center of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Chambésy (Switzerland), whose task was to elaborate propositions for the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference on the matter of autocephaly and autonomy and the way of declaring them.
On December 10 – 16, 2009 in Chambésy (Switzerland), at the Orthodox Center of the Patriarchate of Constantinople the session of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission was held, whose task was elaboration of the propositions for the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference on the problems of autocephaly and autonomy and the ways of their declaring. For the last time these issues were considered at the session of 1993.
The Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences were convoked first in the 1960-ies with a purpose to make provision of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, whose participants were going to be all the Local Orthodox Churches. One of the most active participants in the work of the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences was Patriarch Filaret, who took part in them in the rank of metropolitan as a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Among the main problems that the participants of the conferences faced was the problem of autocephaly and autonomy of the Churches and the ways of their declaring. On the one hand, the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the group of supporting Churches insist that declaring autocephaly is a prerogative of the Ecumenical Patriarch. On the other hand, the Patriarchate of Moscow and the group of supporting Churches insist that declaring autocephaly is a prerogative of the Mother Church, from which a new autocephalous Church separates.
At the session of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission in Chambésy in December 2009 the propositions as for the possible drawing together of these different views on the problem of declaring autocephaly were discussed. However, the resolutions adopted by the Commission leave many important aspects of this problem unclarified and are of merely preliminary nature. The further consideration of the problem of autocephaly is to take place at the session of the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference, whose time of holding remains indefinite.
At the same time, the representatives of the Churches, who are most of all interested in consideration of the problem of autocephaly and autonomy, in particular, of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, are not invited to the work of both the commission and the conference. Also it is seen from the commission’s decisions that its participants focused on the formal aspects of declaring autocephaly, not having considered the principal issues, namely the criteria whose presence gives one or another local Church a right for autocephaly. In this connection there are reasons to believe that the adoption at the pan-Orthodox level of the draft resolutions proposed by the commission will not in fact solve the existing problems in the matter of declaring autocephaly, but will only intensify them, which will harm the mission of the Orthodox Church on the whole.
1. To state that the attempts to resolve the problem of the Church autocephaly and the way of its declaring at the session of December 10-16, 2009 by the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission in the absence of the representatives of those Local Churches, whose fate this matter immediately concerns, in particular – those of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate, do not comply with the spirit and the traditions of conciliar consideration of the important issues of life of the entire Orthodox Church.
From the history and acts of the Ecumenical and pious Local Councils of the Church we see that when solving the problems concerning some Local Churches, certain church leaders or their doctrines, the representatives of these Churches or the relevant church leaders were always invited, being given an opportunity to substantiate and defend their opinions or actions. Even indubitable heretics were not devoid of the right to defend their position in public, since it corresponds with the principle formulated in the Holy Scripture: Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him (cf. John 7:51). Unfortunately, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church –Kyiv Patriarchate is still deforced by the representatives of the other Local Churches of a right to evidence its position when the issue of autocephaly, being the matter of its immediate concern, is considered at the pan-Orthodox level. In so doing the respective provisions of the Holy Scriptures and the conciliar traditions of the Universal Church are broken.
2. To draw attention of the Plenitude of the Orthodox Church to the fact that when considering the issue of the Church autocephaly the Commission’s members discuss secondary problems, and do not consider the main and principal one - they do not formulate on the grounds of the canons and the historical experience of the being of the Universal Orthodoxy the criteria whose presence gives right to a certain Local Orthodox Church to be autocephalous. There one may see an attempt on the part of the recognized Local Orthodox Churches to secure for themselves an exclusive right to decide voluntarily whether to recognize one or another Local Church as autocephalous or not. Such an attempt to ignore completely the rights of the Churches striving for recognition of their autocephaly is faulty, improvident and harmful for the Orthodox Plenitude, since it does not resolve the existing problems, but only intensifies them.
3. To confirm permanence of the stance of the UOC–Kyiv Patriarchate on the matter of declaring autocephaly. The Kyiv Patriarchate, proceeding from the history of the Orthodox Church and the multiple precedents of emerging of the new Churches, believes that autocephaly is declared by the Council of a new autocephalous Church upon availability of respective grounds, one of which being the state independence of the people among whom this Church performs its ministry. Other Local Churches simply recognize or do not recognize the autocephaly of this new Local Church.
4. To particularly note that the mechanism of declaring autocephaly proposed at the commission’s session in Chambésy is impossible to be put into effect and is dead-born. This mechanism does not define the way of declaring a new autocephalous Church, but rather the way not to recognize as long as possible the Church wanting autocephaly.
In 1991 the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has already tried to follow the way proposed now in Chambésy, having presented a conciliar petition of autocephaly for consideration by the episcopate of the Moscow Patriarchate. Consideration of this petition was formally postponed to the next Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, which had to take place in 1995 and 2000 in compliance with its Statute, but it never convened. And even in 2009, when such Council convened, it did not consider the petition mentioned, in defiance of the resolution of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church of April 1992. The commission in Chambésy did not suggest any mechanism of opposing such arbitrariness.
The Councils of the Kyiv Patriarchate have repeatedly turned to the Church of Constantinople, which is historically the Mother for the Ukrainian Church, with a request to consider the question of recognition of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church. But these requests have been also left without due consideration and response by the present.
5. To take into account all above-mentioned and to send to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and the Primates of the other Local Orthodox Churches the respective open address, in which the stance of the Kyiv Patriarchate is outlined regarding the activity and decisions of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission which sat in session in Chambésy (Switzerland) in December, 2009 (text of the address is attached hereto).
FILARET, Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine
ANDRIY, Metropolitan of Lviv and Sokal
ADRIAN, Metropolitan of Kryvyy Rih and Nikopol
DYMYTRIY, Metropolitan of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyy and Boryspil
EVSEVIY, Metropolitan of Rivne and Ostroh
DANYLO, Metropolitan of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna
VOLODYMYR, Archbishop of Mykolayiv and Bohoyavlensk
JOASAF, Archbishop of Bilhorod and Oboyansk
KLYMENT, Bishop of Simferopol and Crimea
ONUFRIY, Bishop of Vinnytsia and Bratslav
Letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
(The letters of analogous content were sent
at the addresses of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow
and of the Primates of the other Orthodox Churches)
HIS ALL-HOLINESS BARTHOLOMEW,
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE-NEW ROME
AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
YOUR ALL HOLINESS!
As we have come to know, on December 10 - 16, 2009, at the center of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in Chambésy (Switzerland) the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission sat in session, whose task was to elaborate propositions for the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference on the problem of autocephaly and autonomy as well as the way of their declaring. For the last time these issues were considered at the Council’s session in 1993. The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate in its session of January 23, 2010, has closely examined the course and the results of work of the commission mentioned, regarding which it has reached certain conclusions, briefly outlined in the resolutions of the Holy Synod (Journal No. 1 of January 23, 2010), and in more detail – in the present letter.
The very consideration of the issues of autocephaly and autonomy in the framework of preparation to the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church testifies to the fact that both the terms for obtaining autocephaly as well as the way of its declaration have not found their unambiguous expression in the canons of the Orthodox Church. Therefore in these questions the Church is being guided by the related canons, tradition and historical precedents. But the canons that clearly and unambiguously explain the terms whose presence would grant the right of autocephaly to the Local Church, as well as the canons, which clearly and unambiguously explicate the very mechanism of attaining the autocephalous status by such Church – do not exist.
If there are no such canons – it is impossible to break them. The attempts are made to accuse the Kyiv Patriarchate of breaking the canons when proclaiming its autocephaly. However, these accusations are not based on the canons as such, but on their engaged interpretation by those who bring accusations. When declaring its autocephaly the Kyiv Patriarchate was guided by Canon 34 of the Holy Apostles, Canon 8 of the Third Ecumenical Council, interpretations for Canons 17 and 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, Canon 38 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and the historical precedents. The ones bringing accusations against us might refer to other canons, or, more precisely - to their interpretation of these canons. But the fact remains unquestioned – the Orthodox Church has no canon on autocephaly.
For that reason the discussion on the subject of autocephaly and the way of its declaration has lasted for more than one century. Declaration of every new autocephaly both in the past and nowadays has always brought about conflicts. We believe that the reason for such conflicts is that declaration of a new autocephalous Church narrows the scope of power of the Church it separates from, or affects its other interests. That is the process described in Canon 8 of the Third Ecumenical Council takes place: « the vanities of worldly honor brought in under pretext of sacred office».
One can see that even the attempts to find an answer to this question in the framework of preparation to the Council of the Orthodox Church – and this preparation has lasted for more than 40 years, have brought about misunderstanding between the Local Churches. The Patriarchate of Constantinople and other Greek-language Churches insist on the exclusive right of the Ecumenical Patriarch to proclaim autocephaly. The Moscow Patriarchate and other Slavonic Churches believe that the right of declaring autocephaly belongs to the Church from which her part is separating. Have the Churches succeeded to achieve mutual understanding at the meeting in Chambésy in December 2009? Unfortunately they have not.
As we can see from the documents, the commentaries of this event and the related to it official decisions of the Churches, the results of the work of the Inter-Orthodox Preparation Commission remained the preliminary ones, and their further solution is put aside for indefinite term.
So what did the participants reach consent over?
From our point of view the point of their decisions is as follows. To declare autocephaly of the Church it is necessary that upon receiving the petition of autocephaly by a certain church region the Mother Church at its Local Council should give an assessment of ecclesiological, canonical and pastoral pre-requisites for granting autocephaly. If the Council adopts positive decision, the Mother Church notifies it to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which in its turn informs the other Local Churches and finds out the existence of the pan-Orthodox consensus on that issue, manifesting itself in the unanimity of the Councils or the Synods of the Autocephalous Churches. Expressing the consent of the Mother Church and the pan-Orthodox consensus achieved, the Ecumenical Patriarch officially declares the autocephaly of a petitioning Church by issuing the Tomos on Autocephaly, signed by the Ecumenical Patriarch and certified by the signatures of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, invited by the Ecumenical Patriarch for that end.
What would such mechanism of declaring autocephaly mean in practice?
In fact it means that proceeding from the sober estimate of the present state of the inter-orthodox relations an autocephaly can never be declared according to these rules. The mechanism suggested is not the way of granting autocephaly, but the way not to grant it. This mechanism is dead-born, and even in the case of its final approval it is fated to remain on paper.
We may understand why the commission members succeeded to approve that particular model - they have no personal concern to recognize autocephaly of any Church in near future. Since every new autocephaly will signify for any of the Churches the loss of a part of its own structure, and respectively – the loss of power and influence.
Therefore with a high degree of probability we may assume that the commission members tended not so much to resolve the problem of autocephaly, as to defend their rights and privileges. But such a way of solution of the problems of ecclesial life comes into contradiction with the tradition of conciliarity of the Universal Orthodoxy.
What gives us ground to make such conclusions?
First, the commission has not only failed to elaborate any concrete, clear and unambiguous prerequisites (criteria), on the presence of which a Local Church may qualify for the status of autocephaly, but on the whole, has not set it as a goal to clear this question out at all. That is, the commission has left unattended the most important part of the question - defining the prerequisites for autocephaly, having focused attention on the obviously secondary issues – who and how is signing the Tomos on autocephaly.
Second, the commission has not accorded detailed consideration to the most principled issue - whether the Church autocephaly is granted by other Churches or they simply recognize it when certain prerequisites are fulfilled? In fact the history of the Orthodox Church does not know examples of granting autocephaly – practically in all cases when the new autocephalous Churches emerged, the status of autocephaly was not granted, but recognized. That way it was in the ancient times, when the Councils by their canons merely fixed the order which had in fact been established in the relations between the Churches, and did not institute anything new. The same way it happened in more recent times, when the Churches, autocephalous in fact, attained recognition from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and other Churches after a certain period of non-recognition (sometimes for 141 years, as in case of the Russian Orthodox Church).
It is understandable that the commission members represent the local Churches that have already attained recognition of their autocephaly – sometimes after the decades of staying isolated from communion with other Churches. That is why it would be to their advantage to secure all the rights and privileges for themselves, leaving for the Churches that claim for recognition of their autocephaly the position of applicants deprived of rights.
Seeing that, we would like to note that such way of problem-solving is more often used in the secular diplomacy, which is mostly guided by the profit of the parties rather than by truth and justice. But in the solution of the problems of ecclesiastical life it is not the current interests of individual Churches that should be in priority, but truth and justice as fulfillment of the law of God!
In fact, the participants of the session in Chambésy, among the other, took the trouble of determining the future destiny of the Orthodox Churches of Ukraine, Macedonia and Montenegro, Orthodox Church in America, as well as the destiny of the Orthodox Church in Japan, Moldavia, and Estonia. But no representatives of these Churches were involved either officially or unofficially in elaboration of the decisions which are of importance for their further being. It is obvious that such way of discussion of important issues of ecclesiastical life does not comply either with the spirit of the God’s justice and of the Gospel’s brotherly love (сf. John 7:51) , or with the practice of the Ecumenical and pious Local Councils, whereat even indubitable heretics had a chance to express their stance.
The mechanism suggested in Chambésy vests the Mother Churches with all rights, but in no way determines the rights of the Church claiming for recognition of its autocephaly. The Ukrainian Church could experience to the full extent the deficiency and hopelessness of such mechanism by its own example.
The Council of the UOC of November 1-3, 1991 addressed the Patriarch of Moscow and the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church with a clearly grounded petition of autocephaly – just the way the commission suggests. In response to this petition the UOC was only given a promise to consider it at the earliest session of the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. All at once the administration of the ROC prepared and conducted upheaval in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, having illegally dismissed its Primate from office.
Since then in accordance with its Statute the ROC should have conducted the Local Council twice – in 1995 and 2000. However, in contravention of the Statute, the Council never convened, and in 2000 the rule to convoke the council every five years was abolished at all.
Due to the necessity to elect a new Patriarch of Moscow instead of the deceased Alexy II, in 2009 the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church was convoked. But this Council as well, in breach of the resolution of the Council of Bishops of the ROC adopted in April 1992, did not consider the petition of the UOC on granting autocephaly and did not adopt any resolution on that matter. It is obvious that this petition will remain unconsidered – probably till the time of convocation of the new Local Council meant to elect a new Patriarch of Moscow or even longer.
The Councils of Kyiv Patriarchate have repeatedly addressed the Church of Constantinople, which is historically the Mother Church for the Church in Ukraine, with a request to consider the issue of recognition of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. But these requests have been also left without due consideration and response by the present.
Taking all that into account – the question arises – is it possible that the mechanism which have proved its inefficiency at the example of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church may turn to be effective in future?
Realization of the mechanism of obtaining autocephaly proposed by the Commission in Chambésy faces one more essential problem in case of Ukraine. That is: which of the two Churches – the Patriarchate of Moscow or that of Constantinople – should be considered the Mother Church to be addressed with the petition of autocephaly? It is known that the Patriarchate of Constantinople rightly considers itself to be the Mother Church of the Ukrainian Church. But the Moscow Patriarchate also claims its rights for that status as well. Consequently, it is obvious that the autocephaly of the UOC, declared by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, will not receive its recognition from Moscow and vice versa. In what way this problem is to be solved is not explained by the Commission’s decision.
Neither does it explain what the Church wanting autocephaly should do if one or more Churches refuse to sign the Tomos of Autocephaly. For more than four decades the Local Churches can not coincide in opinion on a number of important issues – so is it possible that the Churches wanting recognition of their autocephalous status will have to wait as long as the Universal Orthodoxy has been waiting the convocation the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church?
As we may see, the results of the commission’s work raise more questions than give answers to them. It cannot but upset, since we see that under the guise of the sacred office the vanities of worldly honor, denounced by the Third Ecumenical Council in the decision on autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, steal into the life of the Church of Christ.
Therefore we ask You to help forward that in accordance with the provisions of the Holy Scripture and the traditions of conciliarity of the Church of Christ the representatives of our Local Church had a possibility to take part in the work of the pan-Orthodox commissions and sessions, considering the issues of autocephaly, autonomy and diptychs.
It is our conviction that only the resolutions worked out with participation of the representatives of our Church and of the other Churches taking interest in these matters, may be true, effective and beneficial for the unity of the Orthodox Church.
One of the chief pre-requisites of autocephaly is the state independence of a certain nation (Apostolic Canon 34, Canon 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, Canon 38 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council). On that ground the autocephaly of the Georgian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Russian, Greek, Romanian, Polish, Albanian Churches, of the Orthodox Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia was declared. Since 1991 Ukraine has been an independent state. The Church with the center in Kyiv has existed for more than 1000 years, and the majority of its believers want its autocephalous organization, recognition of the status of the Local Church and the appropriate place in the Diptychs. Therefore we are asking yet again not to ignore these strivings and not to leave unconsidered our repeated and grounded requests.
At the same time, seeing that for many years the hearts of numerous hierarchs have remained closed and indifferent to the problems of the Ukrainian Church and its requests, we place the greatest hope in solution of all these matters not on the princes and the sons of men, but on the Chief Shepherd Lord Jesus Christ – the only Righteous Judge, by Whose mercy and grace the Ukrainian Church exists and performs its ministry even in the present state of artificial isolation and non-recognition.
We are going to strengthen and widen further on the Kyiv Patriarchate - the Local Church of the Ukrainian nation, and will do everything that depends on us in order to overcome its separation, anchoring our hope on the mercy of God and expecting Your understanding and the respective God-pleasing actions.
With love in Christ
On behalf of the Holy Synod
of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate
PATRIARCH OF KYIV
AND ALL RUS-UKRAINE