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MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. Ukraine’s national parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, which issued an appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, on June 16 to grant autocephaly (independence) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, did not get any response from Constantinople, Ukrainian media said on Wednesday.
This runs counter to the Ukrainian deputies’ expectations that the Patriarch would give a response on June 21, at a session of the Pan-Orthodox Council on the Isle of Crete. But participants in the Council did not discuss the Ukrainian issue either on Tuesday or on Wednesday and did not make any statements.
The Rada appealed to Bartholomew I to grant autocephaly to the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to the schismatic Kiev Patriarchate. An appropriate parliamentary resolution rallied 238 votes versus the 226 votes.
The Rada asked the Patriarch to invalidate the 1686 act on the transition of the Kiev Metropolitan See to the realm of Moscow Patriarchate, claiming it contradicted the holy canons of the Orthodox Church. The appeal also contained a request to extend autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, "on the basis of which it could occupy a deserved place in the family of national (local) Orthodox Churches."
Ukrainian politicians embarked on a campaign to separate the Ukrainian church from the Russian Church after the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. Their efforts resulted in the emergence of an ecclesiastical organization calling itself the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to the Kiev Patriarchate.
However, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that reports to the Moscow Patriarchate and has the biggest congregation in Ukraine remains the only canonical branch of Orthodoxy in this country. It legal status does not need redefinition in terms what Patriarchate it is subordinate, too.
The Pan-Orthodox Council, preparations for which took up 55 years, opened its official sessions on Crete on June 20 and it will continue through to June 26. The Primates of ten out of the fourteen national (local) Churches came to the island but the Bulgarian, Antioch (Syrian), Georgian, and Russian Churches refused to take part in the forum on the conditions stipulated by Constantinople.
The Council is expected to adopt documents, the status of which remains disputable given the absence of four Churches at the Council. Russian Church officials said they would wait and see the contents of the documents first and would then decide on their status.
The voting formula at the Council is ‘one Church = one vote’.
There is a prohibition for introducing any major changes to the documents proposed for adoption in the course of the Council. Many local Churches sent their amendments to the Ecumenical Patriarchate but it ignored virtually all of them.