When Patriarch Bartholomew lifted the anathemas on Filaret Denisenko and Makary and pledged his efforts to create an autocephalous (independent) Orthodox Church in Ukraine, he boldly proclaimed that everyone would go along with his decision. However, a piece in TASS published November 30 proposes that perhaps the reason this process has been delayed over and over is because the other Orthodox Churches in fact did not think this was the right move and that by extension, the Patriarch is complicit in creating a fake Ukrainian Church (edited for grammar and emphasis).
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has been deliberately delaying the process of granting autocephaly to Ukraine because it has so far failed to win the support of other national Orthodox churches, Spokesman for Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Priest Alexander Volkov, has told TASS.
On Thursday, it became known that the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople […] failed to set the date for the unification council in Ukraine during a meeting of its Holy and Sacred Synod in Istanbul, which was held on November 27-29.
“It is becoming clear that Constantinople’s actions are being delayed on purpose and have not yet produced the result that some naive people expect them to,” Volkov said. “In fact, it has long become clear that Constantinople has no real possibility and no real support for its project of [Ukrainian] autocephaly,” he said.
“There is a Russian expression to describe the situation, which means ‘to feed someone with promises.’ I’m sure that similar expressions exist in the Greek and Ukrainian languages as well,” the Russian church official added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Nicholai Danilevich, said it was the last meeting of the Ecumenical Patriarchate this year.
“Therefore, no tomos [a Church decree] on Ukrainian autocephaly was issued, nothing is known about its contents, and the date for the unification council’s meeting has not been set. Let me add that this was the last session of Constantinople Patriarchate’s Synod this year,” Danilevich wrote on his Facebook page.
OrthoChristian, the English-language website from Sretensky Monastery and itself the representative news source for the Patriarchate of Moscow and all Russia, has followed the Ukrainian matter very closely since it became hot over the summer of 2018. After the October 11 move by the Ecumenical Patriarch to lift the anathemas against Filaret and Makary and to proceed with the creation of an independent Church in Ukraine, the response from the world’s fourteen Local (administratively independent) Orthodox Churches was almost entirely negative.
Significantly, the Polish Orthodox Church, which has a large number of people who have historical resentments towards Moscow like many Ukrainians do, soundly condemned the move of the Ecumenical Patriarch, saying this move was a total violation of canons. The Polish Church declared that they do not recognize the rehabilitation of these leaders and would not concelebrate with them or their communities.
Other jurisdictions, like the Patriarchates of Georgia, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, also declared their support for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, led by Metropolitan Onuphry, and condemned the Ecumenical Patriarch’s move as a violation of canons. No further censures are known at this time.