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Russian Orthodox Church hopes common sense prevails in Ukrainian clerical crisis

The Patriarchate of Constantinople's synod began its meeting on Tuesday, during which the Ukrainian Church’s bid for independence (autocephaly) can be considered

MOSCOW, October 9. /TASS/. Russian Orthodox Church believes that common sense regarding the Ukrainian autocephaly issue will prevail among members of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople’s synod, a senior Russian church official said on Tuesday.

The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople began its meeting on Tuesday, during which the Ukrainian Church’s bid for independence (autocephaly) can be considered.

"The problem referred to as the problem of Ukrainian autocephaly is not theoretical and abstract. This is a problem that affects a great number of people," the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Synodal department for the Church’s relations with society and the mass media, Vladimir Legoida, said during a meeting with Russian lawmakers.

"Why does the Russian Church has such a firm, maybe even harsh stance regarding this issue? Because it affects millions of people, and this is their problem. One cannot create a church, one can either be with it or outside it," he continued.

The Russian Orthodox Church official expressed hope that "common sense and Christian conscience would eventually prevail."

He added that the issue of autocephaly has absolutely nothing to do with financial relations between the Ukrainian church and the Moscow Patriarchate.

"Financial relations are simply non-existent, the Ukrainian church makes no financial contributions or transactions into the church’s budget," he said.


Autocephaly debate

Ukraine today has one canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is a self-governing church constituent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Also, there are two religious organizations not recognized by the Orthodox Christian world - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

The Ukrainian authorities have tried to create a Local Orthodox Church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate on numerous occasions since 1991.In April 2018, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko addressed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople with a request to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.

On September 7, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, as part of preparations for providing autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, appointed its exarchs (envoys) in Kiev, which is the Moscow Patriarchate’s canonical territory.

On September 23, Patriarch Bartholomew said during a Divine Liturgy in Istanbul that Ukraine has the right to obtain autocephalous status, while the Patriarchate of Constantinople has the sole right to provide autocephaly.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church responded by saying that Constantinople’s actions were a crude violation of church canons and stopped mentioning Patriarch Bartholomew during church services and conducting joint services with Bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.