sabato 28 maggio 2022

What happened at the UOC Council - verified by an important participant

(Peter Anderson)
Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, Deputy Head of the UOC’s Department for External Church Relations and a frequent spokesperson of the UOC, has made an important posting on his Facebook page: (link). With respect to the UOC Council held on May 27, he states: "The correct description of how it all happened.”  He then provides a link to an article entitled, How the Council of the UOC was held and what decisions were made.  The link provided is (link). Father Nikolai Danilevich was at the Council, and a photo in the article shows Father Nikolai speaking there.  The author of the article is not given.  (It could have been Father Nikolai himself.) I personally consider Father Nikolai to be a very reliable source. The fact that he states that the article is a “correct description” of what happened leaves me to believe that the description is true.  Below is a Google translation of the article (absent photos) which is in Russian.

How the Council of the UOC was held and what decisions were made

On May 27, 2022, the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was held in Kyiv.  The Council decided to introduce into the Charter on the management of the UOC provisions on its independence and independence - in accordance with the Tomos granted to it on October 27, 1990, as well as a number of other additions and changes.

The Council also condemned the war, expressed disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill in relation to the war in Ukraine, determined the conditions for further dialogue with the OCU, revived the tradition of world-making in Kyiv, outlined the need for pastoral care and nourishment for millions of Ukrainian refugees abroad, and much more.  The decisions of the Council have yet to be comprehended and commented on, and we want to tell you how everything happened in Feofaniya today.

Word of the Primate

The meeting started with appeals of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry.  The primate read out a report on the current state of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - on the challenges and difficulties that we are experiencing, on the war, on how the Church is helping the people of Ukraine in this war.  As we pray for our defenders , we collect humanitarian aid for the victims, for refugees.  How do we accept refugees?  How our temples served as bomb shelters - in those places where hostilities are taking place. How the Church helps the army by organizing fundraising for equipment, food, and other feasible assistance.  The Primate also spoke about the persecutions that have arisen in many regions of Ukraine, where they are even trying to legally prohibit the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the territory of certain UTGs [United Territorial Communities].

Three folders with appeals

After that, His Beatitude said that all these challenges and difficulties in the conditions of the military aggression of the Russian Federation caused a sharp reaction among believers, and it is no longer possible to live the way we lived.  From everywhere, in his name receives many appeals with a request to respond to these challenges, because society identifies the UOC with Moscow, with the actions or inactions of the Patriarch of the Russian Church, with various statements of the Russian clergy.  Such requests are received in large numbers.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry noted that all the letters were personally read and processed by him.  In one folder he has collected those in which people ask and plead for autocephaly and independence of the Ukrainian Church, in the second - those in which people want to leave the status of the UOC unchanged.  And in the first folder, the number of appeals is many times greater than the number of those in the second.  For example, the Primate read out in full the appeal of the clergy of the Kyiv diocese, which was drawn up two weeks after the start of the war.  Other appeals from parishes and dioceses were also read, including a request to leave the status of the UOC unchanged.  There was also a third folder - with letters in which people wrote that they fully trusted the Primate and hoped for his wise decision.

A say by all desiring

After that, they gave the floor to the diocesan bishops.  First of all, those who are in the territories affected as a result of hostilities spoke.  Bishops from the eastern dioceses and Crimea, those territories of Ukraine that are not yet controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, spoke via video link.  Basically, the opinion was expressed that there is no need to change the status of the UOC, and the one that is now suits everyone.  The metropolitan, who heads one of the departments in the East of Ukraine, noted that in his diocese the voices of the clergy were divided in half: those who are for and against the change in status.

During the speeches, it was said that the current meeting of bishops, clergy and laity should become a Council.  Moreover, the composition is just right.  There was also an argument that we ourselves in Kyiv need to brew myrrh [chrism], because now there is no connection with Moscow, but myrrh is necessary.  In addition, before the revolution of 1917 in Kyiv they brewed myrrh - Kyiv had such a right, and this tradition was interrupted only as a result of revolutionary events.

Then His Beatitude gave the word to the clergy.  Priests from Sarny, Vinnitsa, Chernivtsi, Lvov, Bila Tserkva, Odessa, Ovruch, Sumy, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kamenetz-Podolsk dioceses spoke.

Most of the representatives of the clergy, who, as they say, work "in the fields", literally on the front line, spoke out that the aspirations of the people were in the maximum separation from Moscow, because indeed many parishes are now practically on the verge of destruction.

Then they gave the floor to the laity.  Representatives from the Chernivtsi, Kremenchug, Chernihiv dioceses, from Kyiv, from the organization "Laity" [«Миряне»] spoke out.

In one of the speeches, it was said that Patriarch Alexy II once said that “you need to grow to autocephaly,” and right now we see that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has grown to autocephaly and should have an independent status.

Laymen from Rivne, Tulchin, Konotop, Zaporozhye, Kamenetz-Podolsky, Boryspil, Sumy, Uman and the Dnieper also spoke. It should be emphasized that the floor was given to everyone and absolutely everyone could speak.

How did the status of the UOC change?

After the speeches, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry, after listening to everyone, asked: “Should the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church be changed?  Because if it is changed, then it is necessary for our meeting to become a Council.”

Everyone voted "yes" for this proposal, and the decision was met with applause.

When it was already decided that the meeting had received the status of a Council, the participants dispersed for lunch, and in the afternoon, in order to comply with the necessary formalities, a short meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC was held, after which the Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church met, and changes to the Charter of the UOC were worked out point by point concerning the connection of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the Russian Orthodox Church.

All items that make the Ukrainian Orthodox Church dependent on the Russian Orthodox Church were removed.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry read out the options for changes, and the bishops voted on each item.  The overwhelming majority of bishops were "for" the changes, and only a few literally voted either "against" or abstained.  

After all the points were worked out by the Council of Bishops, the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church began with the participation of the laity, monastics and clergy. In the same way, one after the other, items were submitted for discussion, clarification and voting. They voted for everyone - moreover, the vast majority of the participants were in favor.

95% of the Council participants voted “for” changing the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. There were discussions, clarifications, but on the whole the Council was unanimous.

Thank the Lord

After the vote  the Resolution of the Council (already published on official church resources) was read. The key points were those emphasizing that we, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, are independent and self-governing, that myrrh is brewing in Kyiv, that we condemn the war and express disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill regarding hostilities, and also that the Church decided to take on self-support for Ukrainian refugees abroad.

After that, the participants thanked the Lord and dispersed.

It can be said that the Council made those decisions that even the most courageous supporters of secession from Moscow did not expect.  And the amendments to the Charter adopted by him are based on the Tomos on granting independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in governance, which we received in 1990. []

At that time we did not take full advantage of the rights that were given to our Church, but now we collectively decided that independence and self-sufficiency in governance will henceforth be manifested in this form.

It should be emphasized that the current Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was held thanks to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry, and it was thanks to him that changes were made to the Charter of the UOC.  As a good shepherd, beloved and loving, our Beatitude knows the needs of his flock, takes care of them and protects them from wolves that can rob them.

By the way, on this day exactly 30 years ago ..

“- On May 27, 1992, a historic event took place for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

In the city of Kharkov, a Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was convened, which went down in history as the Kharkov Bishops' Council.  The decisions made determined the further historical path of our Church.

The past 30 years of church life testify to the correctness and expediency of these decrees.  In those difficult 1990s for Ukraine, the Council managed not only to preserve the unity of our Church, but also to protect it from the forces that tried to use the institution of the Church for personal purposes.

Today, Ukraine is going through extremely difficult times.  The war that the Russian Federation started against Ukraine has been going on for more than three months.  Military actions have already taken thousands of lives of our compatriots, houses have been destroyed, families have been orphaned, innocent people are suffering.  It is impossible to describe all the consequences of the ongoing war, just as it is impossible to find words to convey all the pain of millions of Ukrainians.  Not to lose humanity and the image of God when evil has filled the hearts, not to waver in faith in God - these super-difficult tasks are now facing each of us ... "From the speech of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry at the Council of the UOC on May 27, 2022