KIEV, December 13. /TASS/. Bishops from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), taking a cue from Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine, are sending invitations to the so-called unification council back to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew without answering them, the UOC press service reported on Thursday.
"More than 50 bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who received invitations to the ‘unification council,’ sent them back to Istanbul," the press service said, adding that "56 hierarchs did so, not counting those bishops who refused to accept the invitation letters."
The UOC also stressed that "Onufry, having received a letter with ultimatums, threats from Patriarch Bartholomew and an ‘invitation’ to the ‘unification council,’ folded the message into an envelope and returned it to the sender without answering it."
Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko earlier said that the so-called unification council to create an independent Ukrainian church would be held on December 15. According to Poroshenko, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent letters to bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church "inviting them to take part in that historic event."
The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church said immediately after that it would not take part in the council branding it as illegal.