MOSCOW, September 4. /TASS/. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople cannot provide autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church at its sole discretion without consent from other Local Orthodox Churches, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, Vice-Chairman of the External Church Relations Department at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (reporting to the Moscow Patriarchate), has said.
"If Constantinople makes a certain decision, it should be recognized by all Local Orthodox Churches. Its ratification by all Local Orthodox Churches is necessary, let’s put it that way. Therefore, it is pointless for one church to make a certain decision knowing in advance that other churches may not recognize it," the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Information and Educational Department quotes him as saying.
"In the Catholic Church, the Pope decides everything single-handedly, and everyone agrees with his decisions. We have a horizontal decision-making system rather than a vertical one, so any of them must be agreed on with all Local Churches. Otherwise, this may result in certain disagreements even going as far as discontinuing Full Communion," the archpriest added.
In his view, "the key to solving the Ukrainian church problem is in Ukraine rather than in Constantinople or Moscow." "The decision must be made here, there should be reconciliation here. We see how aggressively our churches were seized in western Ukraine. About 40 churches were seized. We know how people treat each other, and this is a problem. Therefore, we are not taking any steps, which would result in a schism within the Church itself," Father Nikolai concluded.
The two patriarchs’ meeting
On September 1, The Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to the Moscow Patriarchate warned against believing fake news reports on providing autocephaly to the Church, which appeared in some Ukrainian media outlets after a meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in Istanbul on August 31.
The two patriarchs’ meeting held in the Throne Hall of the Constantinople Patriarchate lasted more than two and a half hours. Taking part in it were Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, his deputy Archpriest Nikolai Balashov and members of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Then the two patriarchs talked to each other behind closed doors. No details have been provided about the content of their conversation.
Patriarch Kirill told reporters after the meeting that he viewed its results in a positive light, expressing hope that the fraternal dialogue would continue.