The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, grants autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, asking for the process to take place without any violence or retaliation. Now, we’ll see how Moscow will react. The decision – announced tonight in a release – has been taken by the Holy Synod, chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, and convened on October 9th to 11th. “The Holy Synod discussed for a long time, especially on Ukraine’s ecclesiastic issue”, with Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilion, and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton, patriarchal exarchs in Ukraine, and today it ruled that “they would renew the previous decision that the Ecumenical Patriarchate may grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church”.
Therefore, the Holy Synod’s release goes on, it was decided “that the legal binding of the Synod Letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of the time”, entitling “the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan Bishop of Kiev”, “by proclaiming and asserting its canonical dependence of the Mother Church of Constantinople”, “should be annulled”. In the release, the Holy Synod calls “all the parties concerned to abstain from appropriating churches, monasteries and other properties, and from any violence or retaliation, so that Christ’s peace and love may prevail”.
Now, we’ll see how Moscow will react. In September, in a press release, the Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department of External Relations of the Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow, had said that the Russian Orthodox Church would have never accepted granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church and that, if that happened, “he would interrupt communion with Constantinople”. And he had added: “This operation has been made in breach of the canons of the Church and cannot go unanswered”.