KIEV, December 7. /TASS/. Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Onufriy has sent back Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew’s invitation to the so-called Unifying Assembly, which is set to take place in Kiev on December 15, leaving it without a response, the Union of Orthodox Journalists informed on Friday.
"The blessed Onufriy has received Patriarch Bartholomew’s invitation to the "unifying assembly", has put the invitation in an envelope and returned it to the sender without a response. Other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church plan to do the same by sending the invitations back," the message states.
Earlier reports informed that the Unifying Assembly aimed at setting up an autocephalous church in Ukraine would take place on December 15. Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew has sent out invitations to the heads of Ukrainian autocephalous and canonical churches, asking them to take part in the assembly. However, the hierarchs of Ukraine’s canonical churches have refused to participate in the assembly, stating that their position on this issue has not changed.
On the outcomes of the Holy and Sacred Synod held on October 9-11, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople announced the decision to lift the anathema against leaders of two extracanonical churches in Ukraine - Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and Makariy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The Ecumenical Patriarchate also announced that it is starting the process of granting autocephalous status to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
In response to this, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has made a decision to cease joint Eucharistic celebrations (joint liturgies) with Constantinople.
On November 13, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate announced that it deems the decisions made by Constantinople invalid, and officially proclaimed the rupture of relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.