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Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev: An assembly of only some Orthodox Churches will not become a Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council as its decisions will not have a pan-Orthodox significance

Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev: An assembly of only some Orthodox Churches will not become a Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council as its decisions will not have a pan-Orthodox significance
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15 June 2016 year 13:52

His Beatitude Onufry, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, gave an interview to the education department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church about the situation concerning the preparation of the Pan-Orthodox Council.

― Your Beatitude, what was the decisive reason that has made the Russian Orthodox Church refuse to take part in the Council planned for the Trinity Day?

― Today the world is developing in a new format. Political and economic borders, which individual states used to put around themselves, are disappearing and a single great power is emerging to embrace the whole world. Regrettably, in this new format of human existence there is no place given to the Orthodox Church.

We are disturbed by it and seek to find for ourselves a place in which we could exist legally.

The first thing to be done is to create a governing body for the Orthodox Church represented throughout the world. Since the Orthodox Church is a Universal Church, it is clear that it is the Council that should become such a governing body, which would include representatives of Churches from all parts of the world. Nowadays, the first attempt is made to build such a Council.

Unfortunately the first attempt has failed. The documents submitted to the Council have failed to stand up to criticism after they were studied by our faithful. A number of Local Churches have made their proposal for improving these documents. Similar proposals were made by the Holy Kinot of Holy Mount Athos, too.

Our Church has sought to do everything possible to correct the Council’s documents, but, regrettably, it has not happened. Therefore, we have joined the proposals of the Churches, which believe that the Council should be postponed to a later date and to be held when the documents to be considered and adopted are finalized.

If the Council’s documents are consistent with the Orthodox doctrine affirmed by the seven Ecumenical Councils and all the pious Councils known in our history, then the Council to be convoked to adopt these documents will really show the beauty and magnificence of the Orthodox faith to the world and demonstrate to all our unity in the Truth.

― Did the Holy Synod hope that a pan-Orthodox consensus would still be found before the beginning of the Council?

― Yes, our Holy Synod did hope that the Orthodox consensus (i.e. agreement) will be found and our Church, until the last moment, did everything possible to make it happen. Unfortunately, it happened as it happened. But we do not lose hope. The processes for preserving God’s Truth and uniting all around this Holy Truth are long and painstaking, but with God’s help everything can be done.

― Although the Patriarch of Constantinople himself has not made any official statement, but some clergy of this Church already say that the other Local Churches will still assemble on June 19 in Crete. Can we consider this assembly a Great and Holy Council, as was initially expected?

― It may be so that representatives of only some Orthodox Churches will assemble, but this assembly will not be a Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council, but merely a conference of some Orthodox Churches and, accordingly, their decisions will not be of pan-Orthodox significance.

― On the eve of the Council there was much talk about the so-called Ukrainian problem during it. Recently it has even become known that a group of People’s Deputies have prepared an appeal to the Supreme Rada and Patriarch Bartholomew on this matter. Do you think the crisis in the Council’s preparation will make an impact on the situation in Ukrainian Orthodoxy?

― In the Council’s Working procedure the religious situation in Ukraine is not mentioned at all. Church schisms, products of human sin, are present in almost all the Local Churches. They are cured by the same thing as sin is – repentance.

I do not think the difficulties in the preparations for the Council should provoke the feeling of revenge in Local Churches. If we take this path, then already today we can spell the death of the future Pan-Orthodox Council. I believe everybody is aware of this; therefore, there should be no invasion of one Church into the canonical territory of the other.

As for the appeal of some People’s Deputies of our state to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, it is an outright violation of the status of state-church relations. According to our law, Church is separated from State and State from Church. The interference of some deputies in the Church’s affairs is an outright violation of the State Law. I would advise such deputies that they had better fulfill their direct duties before our people, while the Church’s problems will be solved without them by Christ, Who is the Head of our Church.

As far as Ukrainian Orthodoxy is concerned, I will say this: if politicians had not interfered in our problems, we would have found ways to unity long ago.