Ukraine's Patriarch Filaret urges church heads to prepare for election of head of new independent church
Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) Filaret has urged the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to prepare for a special unification council.
"The task of this council is to approve the decision on church unity, elect the Primate of the united local autocephalous UOC, who will get on its behalf the Patriarchal and Synodal tomos on the autocephaly of the UOC," according to a statement of the UOC-KP.
"We expect that taking into account all the circumstances, such as history, successful activity, a large number of episcopates, clergy and church members, monasteries and theological schools, other factors, heads of the [new] local Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be granted Patriarch status in keeping with the Patriarch and Synodal tomos," reads the report.
The Kyiv Patriarchate urged the episcopate, clergy and members of the UAOC, as well as those of the Moscow Patriarchate, to support the unification process of the Ukrainian Orthodoxy.
This process should take place voluntarily, peacefully and without coercion; every member of the church, like every community of laity or clergy, has the right to freely choose the center of ecclesiastical subordination, whether to belong to the Ukrainian Church or the Russian one.
"Those hierarchs, clergy and laity who choose, despite all the circumstances, to stay with the Moscow Patriarchate have the right to do so. The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine will equally coexist with all other churches and religious organizations as guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of our state and international law," the UOC-KP said.