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Regarding the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine September 2018

At its formal session on April 20, 2018, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople voted to proceed with taking the necessary steps for granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine. This decision was made after extensive study and discussion based on the responsibilities and rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as enumerated by the sacred canons, and the historical reality that in 1589 when the Church of Russia received its status as a patriarchate from the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Metropolis of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, was not included but remained under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. Additionally, within the Patriarchal and Synodal “Praxis” (act) of 1686 there is further affirmation that the Ukraine remained under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Fully conscious of the ecclesiastical, political and geopolitical dimensions of granting autocephaly to Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate commissioned a delegation – comprising Their Eminences John Metropolitan Geron of Pergamon, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, and Metropolitan Bartholomew of Smyrna - to visit its sister Orthodox Autocephalous Churches throughout the world from May through July 2018, in order to inform them and explain its decision. Moreover, within the framework of preparing to issue the Tomos (official document granting autocephaly), the Ecumenical Patriarchate appointed two Exarchs to the Ukraine – His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon (from the United States) and His Grace Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton (from Canada) - in order to deliberate with congregations and communities, as well as all parties and individuals involved in the granting of the Tomos. These two hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne serve the large Ukrainian Orthodox community in North America, which is under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, attesting to the abiding ties that bind Kiev and Constantinople.

In its ecclesial responsibility and regard for healing divisions and strengthening unity among the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is sometimes obliged to adopt difficult resolutions. In its historical role and right to hear appeals from Churches isolated for diverse reasons from the rest of the Orthodox Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is occasionally compelled to assume painful initiatives. Finally, in its traditional consideration and maternal concern not to neglect even a single lost sheep (as in Christ’s parable in Luke 15.1-7), the Ecumenical Patriarchate is from time-to-time required to reach out in reconciliation and forgiveness.

The historical reasons in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s involvement in seeking a canonical resolution to the ecclesiastical anomaly in Ukraine have been analyzed and elaborated in a number of places, notably in numerous articles found on the following websites and links:

The Documents Speak

The Ecumenical Throne and the Church of Ukraine

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Mosaics from the Church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) Kiev (1037 AD)

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The Interview by Archbishop Job of Telmessos

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Ecumenical Patriarch declares Ukraine Autocephaly 'will occur because it is right'

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His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Clarifies the Situation of the Ukrainian Church

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1970 Letter from Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras on Autocephaly

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The Primacy of Constantinople by Dr John Panteleimon Manoussakis

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"They refuse to find a reasonable solution to cure the schism", interview of Archbishop Job of Telmessos to "Ethnos of Sunday"

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Mosaics from the Church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) Kiev (1037 AD)

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Ecumenical Patriarchate

Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia

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