It is the object of dispute par excellence between the patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow: the planned, independent Ukrainian Orthodox national church. Now it is not only clear that it is founded, but also when.
The establishment of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox national church is scheduled to take place on 15 December. This was announced by President Petro Poroshenko after media reports on Wednesday in Kiev.
Invited to the founding council were the bishops of three churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, the Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The bishop meeting was to take place in the oldest Kiev church, the Saint Sophia Cathedral, which is currently a museum owned by the state.
For more than 300 years Ukraine has belonged to the Moscow Patriarchate according to the Canon Law. The Kiev leadership has been trying for a long time to an autonomy (autocephaly) of the Orthodox Church in the former Soviet republic – especially in view of the current conflict with Moscow.
Russian church is running storm
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, has promised autocephaly as the head of honor of all Orthodox Christians. In contrast, the Russian church is storming and has broken relations with the Patriarch based in Istanbul. Most of the bishops of the Moscow-Moscow church will boycott the synod. Thus conflicts over individual church buildings and monasteries are foreseeable.
Already last Thursday the course had been set for the foundation of an independent regional church . The lead patriarchate at its session (Holy Synod) in Istanbul passed the statute for the new autokephalic church, but has not yet set a date for the founding council.
Meanwhile, the dispute in Orthodoxy also has effects in Germany. For the first time on Wednesday, the Orthodox Bishops’ Conference in Germany (OBKD) held its autumn assembly in Bonn without the members of the two Russian Orthodox dioceses . The present bishops of the Greek, Romanian and Serbian Orthodox dioceses regretted the absence of Russian bishops and expressed the hope of overcoming intra-Orthodox tensions, as the communiqué shows.
The Russian Orthodox church leadership in Moscow had banned the participation of its bishops in bodies chaired by a representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, because of the conflict over ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Ukraine. Chairman of the OBKD is belonging to this patriarchate Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Augoustinos .
As OBKD General Secretary Nikolay Thon, who belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church, did not attend the meeting, the Bishops’ Conference commissioned the Serbian Orthodox Archpriest Radomir Kolundzic to provisionally assume the duties of Secretary-General. to “enable a continuous further work of the OBKD”. The bishops called on their priests and believers to “pray more intensively for the peace of the whole world, the well-being of God’s holy churches and the unity of all”. (Tmg / fxn / dpa / KNA)