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Ukrainian Orthodox Church urges Ecumenical Patriarch to stop interference in its life

The move came as a response to the Patriarchate of Constantinople's appointment of the exarchs to Ukraine

KIEV, September 25. /TASS/. The Synod of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to Moscow Patriarchate has issued an appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I to stop interference in its affairs, the Synod’s department for public relations and education said on Tuesday.

"The Synod urged Patriarch Bartholomew to stop meddling in the internal affairs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and to refrain from encroachments on its canonical territory," the report said.

Members of the Synod also demanded that the two exarchs appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Ukraine leave the country.

The exarchs, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon [the US] and Bishop Iralion of Edmonton, both of them natives of Ukraine who are clerics of the Ukrainian Church affiliated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, were appointed to Ukraine in order to supervise preparations for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The latter would, in theory, pool together under one umbrella all the Ukrainian religious associations considering themselves to be Orthodox Churches.

"The so-called exarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton should leave the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," the Synod said in its decision. It described the activity of the exarchs as ‘non-canonical’ and ‘violating inter-religious peace in Ukraine’.

"Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have received an instruction to stop co-officiating with the hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate," the report said.

The Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate passed a decision on appointing the exarchs on September 7. The Synod of the of the Russian Orthodox Church, which the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a self-governing branch of, voiced a resolute protest over the decision, calling it ‘a blunt encroachment on the canons of the Church’.

It also promised a response to the Constantinople Patriarchate’s decision earlier.

Metropolitan Onuphrius of Kiev and all Ukraine said at a session of the Synod of the Russian Church on September 14 he had not had any meetings with the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s appointees and was not going to meet with them.

He said they had come to Ukraine without blessing from the canonical Church.

It was also on September 14 that the Synod decided to stop mentioning Patriarch Bartholomew I during the liturgies throughout the Russian Church and to suspend co-officiating with Constantinople hierarchs.

Metropolitan Hilarion, the chief of Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external Church relations said the decision was an equivalent of the suspension of diplomatic relations but did not mean their full break-off and members of laity of the Russian Church could continue taking communion, the main sacrament in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, in the parishes of the Church of Constantinople.