BELGRADE, July 29. /TASS/. The Constantinople Patriarchate should convene the Pan-Orthodox Council and come to terms with the Russian Orthodox Church in order to overcome the Orthodox Church split, Metropolitan bishop of Montenegro and the Littoral Amfilohije said in an interview with TASS on Monday.
"The only thing that Constantinople could do today is to gain strength because it is not easy for it and to convene the Pan-Orthodox Council, agree with the Moscow Patriarchate and find a solution in order to overcome the split in the church. I believe this is the only thing that can be done," the metropolitan noted.
According to one of the leading hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the decision on handing over the Tomos of Autocephaly to the newly-established Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) has dealt a serious blow to the Constantinople Patriarchate. "This is a serious damage for the Constantinople Patriarchate. All conferences of bishops, which used to be held earlier around the world, have been almost suspended both in Latin America and in Europe. Constantinople sees that it hasn’t done any wise thing either for Russia or for the entire Orthodoxy. This is a tragic story," he pointed out.
The metropolitan has condemned the Constantinople Patriarchate’s decision to elect Epiphanius as the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine. "This has created such an unprecedented feud inside the Orthodox Church. No local church has recognized this [the creation of the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine]," he said, stressing: "I’m sure that what has been done in Ukraine was under the pressure of the United States and Europe."
The metropolitan noted that the Constantinople Patriarchate has 2,000 believers in Turkey and Fener, a historic quarter in Constantinople housing the residence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who are facing a disaster. "By their actions they are ruining their foundations," he claimed.
Church crisis in Ukraine
Since the February 2014 coup, Kiev has sought to create an independent church in Ukraine that would sever ties with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In April 2018, the then-Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko wrote a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople asking for autocephaly for the Ukrainian church.
On December 15, 2018, Kiev hosted the so-called ‘unification’ council held under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and brokered by the Ukrainian authorities. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church refused to take part in the event, stressing that both the ‘unification council’ and Poroshenko’s newly founded ecclesiastical establishment were illegitimate. Nevertheless, after the council, the Ukrainian president announced the establishment of a new church in the country, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Tomos of Autocephaly (a clerical decree on establishing an independent church) was handed over to its head, Metropolitan Epiphanius, on January 6.