KIEV, June 22. /TASS/. Opposition Bloc party has sent an alternative address to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, asking him to maintain the traditional canonical structure of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The party published the document carrying the signatures of 39 members of the Verkhovna Rada at its homepage on Thursday.
"We expect with much hope the genuineness of canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine will not be subjected to doubts because of politicians’ interference in Church life," the address said.
The deputies also pointed Bartholomew I’s personal contribution to the efforts to overcome the split in the Ukrainian Orthodox Christian community and reinforcement of the canonical Church on the territory of Ukraine. They said the canonical organization of the Church laid the grounds for religious peace in Ukraine.
The Opposition Bloc deputies said they were highly concerned about the activity of political adventurers, who were trying to change the canonical structure of the Church in Ukraine by forceful pressures on Orthodox bishops and other clerics, "by giving the go-ahead to libelous propaganda campaigns against the Church" in violation of the European standards in the field of religious rights and freedoms.
The Rada appealed to Bartholomew I to grant autocephaly to the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to 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 Diocese to the realm of Moscow Patriarchate, claiming it contradicted the holy canons of the Orthodox Church. It 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.
On the face of it, Archbishop Job (Getcha) of Telmessos, a spokesman for the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Pan-Orthodox Council on Crete said the Council would not consider the Rada’s address.
When the Ecumenical Patriarch gets an official appeal, it will come under scrutiny at a meeting of the Holy Synod at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.