Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has sent a letter to head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) Metropolitan Onufriy explaining the reasons for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian church and inviting him to take part in the upcoming unification council.

The letter dated October 12 was published by unofficial translation by Metropolitan of the UOC-MP Oleksandr (Drabinko) on Facebook.

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The Ecumenical Patriarch reiterated that according to historical data and archival documents, the Holy Metropolitan of Kyiv had always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople founded as a separate metropolitan, occupying the 60th position on the list of the dioceses of the Ecumenical Throne. And later, the local Synod in Russia "unilaterally cut itself off from canonical authority, i.e. the Holy Great Church of Christ (1448), but other metropolitans in the city of Kyiv, being lawful and canonical, were consistently and tirelessly subordinate to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the Kyiv clergy and laity did not accept their subordination to the center from Muscovy." And in 1685, the Moscow patriarch personally appointed the Metropolitan of Kyiv, which Constantinople had previously done, thus violating the canons.

Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysius IV then actually turned a blind eye to the violation of the canons and allowed the Moscow patriarch to appoint the Metropolitan of Kyiv, however, provided that when the metropolitan performs the bloodless and holy sacrament, he should first of all remember the esteemed name of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Taking into account all the historical facts, the Ecumenical Patriarch concludes that the historical Kyiv Metropolitan must be transferred back under the Ecumenical Patriarchate's jurisdiction, while Onufriy could no longer be called the "Metropolitan of Kyiv" after the establishment of the canonical church in Ukraine and election of its primate.

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"The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate during the session of April 22, 2018, took note of the requests sent from time to time from the clergy and laity regarding the independence of the blessed Ukrainian land, which was framed into a separate sovereign state, but above all with a goal of curing existing splits and divisions, since the sister church of Moscow has failed to cure them – they unanimously decided to give the status of an independent internal structure, i.e. 'autocephaly,' to the Ukrainian state. Until the formation of the hierarchy in Ukraine into the body and its definition after the election of its primate, who, in accordance with our decision, will be given a Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos, we inform Your Eminence that in Ukraine there is the highest canonical authority, which is the Holy Great Church of Christ, as it was from ancient times."

"We wanted to inform Your Eminence about these preliminary decisions of the Mother Church through the exarchs appointed by us to Kyiv, but, unfortunately, you refused to interact with them. Returning now to the same issue for the second time in this Patriarchal letter and addressing you as 'His Eminence Metropolitan of Kyiv,' for practical use and kindness, we inform you that after the election of the primate of the Ukrainian church by an authority consisting of the clergy and laity, you will not be able to ecclesiologically and canonically bear the title of the Metropolitan of Kyiv, which you still have despite the violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686," the letter says.

Based on this, Bartholomew called on Onufriy to "immediately and in the spirit of harmony and unity" take part in the upcoming unification council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the election of its primate.

"Of course, Your Eminence is allowed to be a candidate for this position. We also ask you and your hierarchy to communicate with former Metropolitan of Kyiv Filaret and former Archbishop of Lviv Makariy and others since they have been fully reinstated by us in the bishopric, but not in their posts and titles, according to our positive decision in response to requests they had repeatedly sent us, as Divine and Holy Canons 9 and 17 of the Holy Fathers of Chalcedon clearly and wisely proclaim," the letter says.