UOC-EP Reports Secret Communication with Almost All Canonical Hierarchs.
Metropolitan of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky and Bilotserkva, Auxiliary Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), Epiphany (Dumenko) reported that the Kyivan Patriarchate communicates with almost all the hierarchs of the national Orthodox churches and is on friendly terms with them. However, the exchanges are held in secret, the metropolitan said in an interview to Bukovyna.
“It's no secret that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate is not currently recognized. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is trying in every way and means to isolate it from the outside world. Despite this, we have good relations with other Orthodox churches. We are in touch with their hierarchs. But it mostly happens in secret,” said the hierarch.
The secrecy, he said, results from a fear of Moscow.
“For some reason everyone is afraid of Moscow. For as soon as we meet with other hierarchs of the Orthodox churches, immediately there is a reaction from the leadership of the ROC, and even from the state level. Moscow immediately sends threatening letters: Why you do you contact them, why do you hold meetings with representatives of the Kyivan Patriarchate? Nevertheless, we deal with almost all of the hierarchs of the national churches. They comfort us: ‘You are on the right track. You have all grounds to have a local Orthodox church in Ukraine. Because you follow the canons, honor apostolic rule,’” he said.
The metropolitan noted that recognition of autocephaly is a complex and lengthy process. And if the Ukrainians will unite, they will create a powerful Orthodox Church.
“In Moscow, it is a very sensitive issue. For the ROC now claims primacy in the Orthodox world. Without Ukraine, of course, it does not see itself that way. If we fall away, the Russian Church would lose almost half of its parishes and believers. Then their ambitions to claim primacy in the Orthodox world would be futile,” suggested the hierarch.
Metropolitan UOC-KP also admitted that they received from Moscow proposals for unification. However, none of them were suitable for the Kyivan Patriarchate.
“Frankly, we receive proposals for unification from ROC. But they are not suitable, because we do not want to be under the aegis of the Moscow Patriarchate. We will not be satisfied by becoming an exarchate or metropolitanate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. For then there will be two recognized Ukrainian Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Where, then, will be the real Ukrainian Orthodox Church? Then there is won’t be a Ukrainian Church. But churches under different jurisdictions. Therefore, we must create a national Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” said Metropolitan Epiphany (Dumenko).