KIEV, December 7. /TASS/. Head of the extracanonical Ukrainian Church of the Kiev Patriarchate Filaret stated that he would continue to be head of the church after the Unifying Assembly and the creation of a new autocephalous church in Ukraine.
"There are rumors being spread that the patriarch will not present his candidacy and will resign. All of it is untrue. I will be patriarch until I die, because my enthronization took place in 1995, and no one is able to rid me of this grace," he said on Friday.
Filaret added that no more than four hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate would participate in the assembly on December 15.
The patriarch informed that all issues of unification "will be decided solely during the assembly." "As the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate will have the majority during the assembly of hierarchs, then some offers potentially damaging to Ukraine will not pass," Filaret stated.
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.
Chairman of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Legal Department Archpriest Alexander Bakhov stated on Tuesday that the Ukrainian government is pressuring the Ukrainian canonical church’s clergy to participate in the assembly, and that the church will fight against any allegations. He added that such attempts destabilize the situation in the country.
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.