Statement by the Press Service of the Kyiv Metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU) concerning the meetings held at St. Volodymyr’s cathedral in Kyiv on June 20, 2019
From the mass media it is known of the convening of clergy and laity meeting, called “Local Council of the UOC of Kyiv Patriarchate”, by the Patriarch Emeritus Filaret at St. Volodymyr’s cathedral in Kyiv on June 20, 2019. Taking into account the requests for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to evaluate this meeting, with the blessing of the Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Epiphaniy, we report the following.
1.On December 15, 2018, the Local Council of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate was convened and held by the Patriarch of Kyiv and All Russ-Ukraine Filaret, members of the Bishops’ Council and the Holy Synod of the UOC-KP in the church of Little Sofia, where the decision was made to “cease the activity of a religious association UOC-KP by uniting and joining the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “. This decision was made by the Unification Council in St. Sophia on the same day that the religious unification of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was formed, its statute documents were approved, the Primate was elected.
As the confirmation of the validity of the Local Council of the UOC-KP resolution from 12/15/2018 are the signatures of the Presidium of the Council, headed by the Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Filaret on this document , which corresponds to Section ІІ, Clause 10 of the Charter of the UOC-KP, which reads: “The resolutions of the Council become effective immediately after their adoption and signing by His Holiness Patriarch (or Locum Tenens), members of the Presidium and Secretary.” Freewill and awareness of decisions made by Local Council are confirmed by testimonies of participants and video recording.
The delegates of the Local Council of the UOC-KP were the same persons who were the delegates of the Unification Council, the validity of their authority is certified by the resolutions of the members of the Bishops’ Council and the Holy Synod of the UOC-KP, who were fully involved in the work of the Local Council, is also confirmed by the signatures of the Council Presidium headed by His Holiness Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Filaret.
2.According to the 34th Apostolic Rule, “Bishops of all peoples must know the first of them, and recognize him as the head, and do nothing that exceeds their authority without consent of him. Everyone should do only what concerns his diocese and the places (settlements) belonging to it. But even the first does not do anything without the consent of all, for in such a way will be one-mindedness, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. ”
The Primate of each Local Church is precisely the “first bishop”, and general church affairs may not be resolved without his will and knowledge. Patriarch Emeritus Filaret has repeatedly deliberately and publicly, verbally and in writing recognized the Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Epiphaniy as the Primate of the Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and thus – “the first bishop” among the Orthodox bishops of the Ukrainian people, who should be recognized as a head, and anything ,that exceeds the rights of the diocesan bishop, should not be done without his consent.
Patriarch Emeritus Filaret participated in three sessions of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, convened on the basis of the Statute of the OCU, as one of the three permanent members of the Synod in accordance with the relevant statute norm. Thus, he repeatedly formalized his recognition of the validity of the Statute of the OCU and his affiliation with the religious unification of the OCU.
Patriarch Emeritus Filaret accepted and signed the resolution of the Holy Synod on February 5, 2019, which states that he “continues to rule Kyiv diocese in the parishes and monasteries of Kyiv (except for the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv), which until 15 December 2018 were under his jurisdiction as Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine “. The specified eparchy consists of religious communities and religious organizations (parishes and monasteries), which since December 15, 2018 have become an integral part of the religious association of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Thus, although His Holiness Filaret has the title of Patriarch Emeritus, however, according to the spirit and letter of the canons, the Statute of the OCU and the synodal decision, he is the diocesan bishop of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and his canonical power and jurisdiction are determined by this fact.
3.Unfortunately, over time, the Patriarch Emeritus Filaret began to make statements that arbitrarily personally questioned the validity of all the resolutions passed on December 15, 2019, which are discussed above. On behalf of the not-existing religious association of the UOC-KP granting on its forms the directives and demands addressed to the episcopate, clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Patriarch Emeritus Filaret actually exceeds his authority as a bishop violating the 34th Apostolic Rule and the Statute of the Orthodox Church Of Ukraine.
The fact that for his outstanding merits to the Church and to the Ukrainian people, the His Holiness Filaret retains the honorable title of Patriarch – does not in any way mean that, in violation of the 34 Apostolic rule, the Council decrees and the Statute of the Church, he may carry out that which belongs solely to the Primate. There is a number of Metropolitans and Archbishops in the Ukrainian Church, but none of them heads the “metropolitan” or “archbishopric” – only equal in honor and position of the diocese. Consequently, the honorary title of the Patriarch may not mean that his holder heads a separate Kyiv Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
4.From the mass media it has become known that on June 20, 2019, the Patriarch Emeritus Filaret held a meeting of persons convoked personally by him, naming it the “Local Council of the UOC of the Kyiv Patriarchate” in St.Volodymyr’s cathedral in Kyiv. Such a meeting should in no way be recognized as the Local Council, and its resolutions are from the beginning insignificant in the legal and canonical sense of this term, do not give rise to legal consequences and are not enforceable.
Even according to the currently inactive Statute of the UOC-KP, the Local Council of the UOC-KP can be convened by the Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Filaret only together with the Holy Synod of the UOC-KP, but not alone:
Section II, Clause 2. “The council is called by the Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine, and in case of his death, the Locum Tenens, together with the Holy Synod, as necessary, but not less than once every five years”;
Section IV, Clause 6, “The Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine, together with the Holy Synod, convenes and presides over Local and Bishops’ Councils.”
The Holy Synod of the UOC-KP, as the body which ceased its activities, did not resolve on the “convening of the Local Council.” Of the 12 members of the last valid composition of the Synod of the UOC-KP, “the convocation of the Local Council of the UOC-KP” is supported only by two – Patriarch EmeritusFilaret and Metropolitan Joasaph (Shibaev). The persons whom the Patriarch Emeritus Filaret summoned at St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral have not been authorized by anyone. Therefore, even according to the norms of the Statute of the UOC-KP, which is no longer in force, the meeting held on June 20, 2019 in St.Volodymyr’s Cathedral of Kyiv, is the meeting of arbitrarily convened clergy and lay people, but not the Local Council.
5.In connection with the above-mentioned, we inform that the convening and holding a meeting by a single diocesan bishop with a view to separate a new structure from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, appropriating the name of the Patriarchate and endorsing its leadership in it, is a gross violation of the 34 Apostolic Rule. We call upon the Patriarch Emeritus Filaret and those who participated in the meeting to realize all the harmful consequences of such an act and to stop the undermining of unity of the Church and unity of the Ukrainian people.
Also, specially for the clergymen who are tempted to participate in such events with the possibility of obtaining bishopric ordination in the “restored Kyiv Patriarchate”, we note by the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy that the conscious participation of such clerics in anti-canonical actions is the basis for a categorical refusal to meet their possible future requests to be accepted into the bishopric of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
We inform that at the next meeting of the Holy Synod of the OCU, convened by the Primate on June 24, 2019, resolutions will be passed on the events that have taken place.
Press service of Kyiv Metropolitanate
Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU)