Honorable Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) Filaret urged Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine, head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Epifaniy to "do nothing in the church" without his consent.
According to Filaret, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is facing "separation, diarchy, which can lead to sad consequences." He accused Epifaniy of abandoning the agreements reached during the unification council on December 15, as reported by the Radio Liberty's Ukrainian Service with reference to Filaret's statement.
"In order to rectify the situation, and it can be rectified, it is necessary to fulfill the agreements that were reached before the council in the presence of President Poroshenko and with the bishops. This means the primate is responsible for the external representation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), and the patriarch is responsible for the internal church life in Ukraine, but in cooperation with the primate. The primate shall do nothing in the church without the consent of the patriarch. The patriarch chairs the meetings of the Holy Synod and the UOC meetings for the sake of preserving unity, its growth, and affirmation," Filaret said in a statement.
He added the Kyiv Patriarchate does not need to be restored since it "was and will exist."
"The Kyiv Patriarchate does not need to be restored because it existed, and will exist. Patriarch Filaret remains the hierarch. He has his own diocese – the city of Kyiv, [he is] a permanent member of the Holy Synod. And if there is a standing Patriarch, i.e. there is the Kyiv Patriarchate. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) remains registered with state bodies. In particular, the Kyiv Patriarchate remains registered. This means the Kyiv Patriarchate continues to legally exist," the statement says.
In his statement, Filaret adds the giving up on the Kyiv Patriarchate was the demand of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to hold a unification council of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches and get a tomos of autocephaly.
"Why did the Ecumenical Patriarch demand that we give up on the status of patriarchy? That's because the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the status of patriarchy cannot be part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. But it was necessary for the UOC to theoretically become part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. What were we supposed to do? To give up the theoretical accession to the Patriarchate of Constantinople? Then the Ecumenical Patriarch would not have had a canonical right to provide a tomos for the church that is not part of his. To get a tomos, it was necessary to first become the Kyiv metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople," the statement says.
Filaret said that in this regard, the Ecumenical Patriarch had requested and put forward a condition that "I do not put forward my candidacy for the post of primate, and Metropolitan Emmanuel, chairman of the council, asked me not to put on the patriarchal cowl during the council."
“At the same time, Patriarch Filaret was asked to nominate any bishop for the post of primate. What was Patriarch Philaret to do under these conditions? Refuse for the sake of preserving church leadership or go for humiliation to get a tomos. Patriarch Filaret chose humiliation. Therefore, we have a tomos of our autocephaly," the patriarch added.
"Therefore, the giving up on the status of patriarchy was purely situational. Only the Local Council of the church, which created the Kyiv Patriarchate, may cancel the decision to establish the Kyiv Patriarchate. No such council has been convened. This means the Kyiv Patriarchate remains in place and continues to operate, especially since it is registered with state bodies," the patriarch said in a statement.
"We may be objected that during the Local Council at Kyiv's St. Sophia Cathedral on December 15, 2018, we gave up on the status of the Patriarchate. Indeed! It was during the Council, but that was not a council of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, but the one of the Kyiv Metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople," Filaret added.
He also noted that incumbent President Petro Poroshenko had played a big role in obtaining the tomos.
"But now Poroshenko has retreated from the agreements reached and actually agreed to liquidate the Kyiv Patriarchate," Filaret said.
He also denied accusations of lust for power and authoritarianism.
"Had I served the church for the sake of power, I could have become a [pro-]Moscow patriarch. But I prayed to God so that his will was accomplished on me, and I never became the Moscow patriarch," Filaret said.
He added that, without the Kyiv Patriarchate, "there would have been no discussions on the issue of the tomos".
As UNIAN reported earlier, on April 27, Patriarch Filaret declared he was not satisfied with the OCU's status as a metropolis.
"The OCU is officially recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch. But there is the Kyiv Patriarchate in Ukraine. That's because we are unhappy with the status of the metropolis. We have been around for over 25 years as a patriarchy. And it was the people who elected patriarchs. I am the third patriarch. And Patriarch Volodymyr, Patriarch Mstyslav were here before me. They were patriarchs! Therefore, we are a patriarchate for Ukraine. And for the outside world, i.e. for the Orthodox world, we are the Kyiv metropolis," Filaret said.
On May 14, Filaret invited the OCU's hierarchs to the traditional UOC-KP prayer celebration in honor of holy martyr Makariy to St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv. Invitations were sent on the UOC-KP's blanks and signed by Filaret. Only four of 60 clerics invited to attend showed up.
Earlier, Filaret refused to recognize the UOC-KP as "liquidated" as a result of the creation of the OCU.
At the same time, the Ministry of Culture assures that the UOC-KP was liquidated on December 15, 2018, during the Unification Council.