Moscow Patriarchate warns about inevitable split of society after Ukrainian church granted autocephaly
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) has said granting a Tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian church and the beginning of the creation of a local church in Ukraine may lead to a large-scale "split in Ukrainian society."
"These actions may lead to a split in Ukrainian society, and for the next few years or centuries, people should reject the idea of a local church – this is what we are most concerned about right now. The existence of two ecclesiastical jurisdictions will cut the body of our society very deeply and I do not know how to heal it afterwards. Of course, this will lead to a split in the entire Orthodox world," Metropolitan Antoniy (Pakanych), the Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, said in an interview with the RBC Ukraine news agency.
He also said that "no one is immune from heresy and schism" if not to live in a conciliar way. "There have been cases in church history when the great patriarchs became heresiarchs and schismatics. The church lives its fullness. The episcopate does not act as it wants, or on someone else's task, but feeling how people live. People are not an electorate for us as at politicians, they are the people of God for us," he said.
In addition, the UOC-MP says it will be unlawful and incorrect if the Verkhovna Rada passes a law under which the UOC-MP should change its name. "The members of our church are Ukrainians, citizens of Ukraine, and their church should be called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Do not artificially make millions of your own citizens strangers in their own country. This will lead to no good," Antoniy said.
He stressed all legal methods would be used to defend the name. "We have a document called 'Fundamentals of the Social Concept of the UOC,' according to which, in very difficult situations, I will quote: 'The Church may appeal to its children with a call for peaceful civil disobedience.' This is an extreme measure but it is fixed in our social concept approved by the Council of Bishops," he said.
Antoniy also said the UOC-MP does not recognize the local Ukrainian church, since several other local churches do not recognize it.