MOSCOW, September 10. /TASS/. The situation in Ukraine will deteriorate dramatically in case the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople provides autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church, Dr. Vladimir Legoida, the chief of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for relations between the Church and society said on Monday.
"Neither the Ukrainian Orthodox Church nor its Primate Metropolitan Onufry have ever asked for any autocephaly. So, if such a non-canonical step is taken, it will entail a dramatic deterioration of the situation in Ukraine with tragic consequences. But it is absolutely obvious that believers who are loyal to the canonical church don’t want to change anything," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-1 television channel.
"A man in the street might find it convincing from the point of view of everyday logic that once Ukraine is an independent state it should have a ‘Kiev Patriarchate.’ But it is not about that. The Russian Orthodox Church is not a church of the Russian Federation. It is the church of Moldova, Belarus - fifteen countries in all. It is not a corporation and not a hobby association and the canons are not something invented by humans to make their lives more comfortable," he said.
According to Legoida, one cannot just invent a church of his own, like Filater did in 1992. "If you are not with the Church, it means you are deprived of the main thing people seek with the Church - God’s grace, regardless of how people who have proclaimed themselves to be the church might picture themselves," he stressed.
The Ecumenical Church of Constantinople said at its official homepage on September 7 the Ecumenical Patriarchate had delegated Bishop Daniel and Bishop Ilarion as its exarchs to Kiev in the framework of preparations for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Ukraine is part of the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, since the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, an entity with the powers of a broad autonomy, stays within the realm of Moscow Patriarchate.
The institute of exarchate means a special administrative and territorial entity in the structure of Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite, which is located in a foreign country and exists to care for the needs of believers of a given rite.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed strong protest and deep indignation in connection with the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which constitute "a gross violation of Church canons." "The Moscow Patriarchate’s counter-moves will follow soon," it said in a statement.
According to Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Moscow Patriarchate may sever relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople if it legalizes Ukrainian schismatics.