Δημοσιεύουμε παρακάτω επιστολή ενός λαϊκού πιστού της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας στην Αμερική (OCA), του Gregory J., προς τον επικεφαλής της εκκλησιαστικής αυτής δικαιοδοσίας, τον Μητροπολίτη Τύχωνα (Tikhon Mollard).
Ο ίδιος ο Gregory J., ο οποίος παρακολουθεί με ιδιαίτερο ενδιαφέρον τις εξελίξεις στην Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία με αφορμή το Ουκρανικό εκκλησιαστικό ζήτημα, μας κοινοποίησε αυτή την επιστολή, επιθυμώντας αυτή να δημοσιευθεί προς ενημέρωση όσο το δυνατόν περισσοτέρων μελών της OCA, αλλά και γενικά των Ορθοδόξων πιστών.
Για αυτονόητους λόγους δεν επιθυμεί τη δημοσιοποίηση των στοιχείων της ταυτότητάς του, τα οποία φυσικά είναι πλήρως γνωστά στον παραλήπτη της επιστολής.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon
P.O. Box 675
Syosset, NY 11791
August 25, 2019
Please forgive me. I am just a 17-year-old layman, but I have a huge concern. That concern is the ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine. This issue has caused me much stress, and I know Your stance on the matter, but to me it makes no sense. How can we deny tens of millions of Orthodox Christians from communion simply because they refuse to be part of the Moscow Patriarchate? How can we deny the restoration of their hierarchs and clergy to their canonical ranks through economy? How can we deny the obvious privileges of the Ecumenical Throne that were received from the Holy Fathers and Ecumenical Councils?
The common claim is that the formerly schismatic Ukrainian Churches possessed no apostolic succession. But this is untrue. The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) had three creations. The first, in 1921, was of course devoid of apostolic succession and canonicity since no bishops took part. The second, however, came with the blessings of the Polish Orthodox Church in 1942. The first Primate of the autocephalous Polish Orthodox Church was His Beatitude Metropolitan Dionizy (Waledynski), who was ordained to the holy episcopate by His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios IV of Antioch in 1913 (1). In 1932, Metropolitan Dionizy ordained Polikarp (Sikorsky) as Bishop of Lutsk (2). Lutsk is in Western Ukraine, and when the Soviets occupied this area in 1939, Bishop Polikarp refused to submit to the Patriarch of Moscow and instead continued under the omophorion of the Polish Orthodox Church. With the blessings of Metropolitan Dionizy in 1942, Metropolitan Polikarp ordained new hierarchs for the UAOC (which despite the name, was under the Polish Church). One of these hierarchs was Bishop Mstyslav (Skrypnyk).
The Russian Orthodox Church claims that despite the clear apostolic succession of these bishops, they were “self-consecrated.” But, even if this was true (which its not), then how was the Ecumenical Patriarch able to receive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA under his omophorion in 1994 without re-ordaining them? His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of the UOC-USA was ordained by Metropolitan Mstyslav in 1985 (3). Metropolitan Antony, along with Your Beatitude, is a member of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops.
I’m sure You are aware of Metropolitan Makariy (Maletich) of Lviv, who headed the UAOC from 2015-2018. He was a priest of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine until 1989, when he joined the newly revived UAOC. He was ordained to holy episcopate in this Church in 1996, which is why there are doubts cast upon his rank, despite the fact that the Ecumenical Throne recognizes him as a bishop. Makariy was consecrated by Patriarch Dimitri, Metropolitan Methodius, and Bishop Igor (4). These hierarchs trace their apostolic succession through Metropolitan Mstyslav, former Metropolitan of Kyiv Filaret (Denisenko), and Metropolitan John (Bodnarchuk) – the latter two being former bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church. While Metropolitan Makariy’s ordination took place in schism, it can still be accepted by economy (and it was). In 2011, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow offered the UAOC autonomy (similar to the ROCOR) if they agree to come under his omophorion – no re-ordination required. The letter, sent to Metropolitan Methodius (5), is still in possession of Metropolitan Makariy.
Speaking of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, they too were in schism. On June 22, 1934, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, under locum tenens Metropolitan Sergius, defrocked their hierarchy. In 2007 when the schism ended, they were accepted without re-ordination and without repentance! In November 2018, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) visited the Russian Orthodox community in Seoul, South Korea. One of the faithful asked him, “Vladika, you told us that this will happen because the Ecumenical Patriarchate accepted the schismatics in Ukraine. Didn’t the Moscow Patriarchate accept the schismatic church ROCOR without any particular process?” Metropolitan Hilarion responded with, “This was done because the Patriarchate of Moscow, as the mother Church of the Russians, embraced the schismatics with love and forgave them everything they had done.” The layman then asked, “But doesn’t the Ecumenical Patriarchate do the same thing now in the case of the schismatic Ukrainians?” (6)
In 1872, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate anathematized and defrocked Bulgarian Exarch Antim and his hierarchy (7). In 1945, at the signature of Ecumenical Patriarch Benjamin, the Bulgarian Orthodox were restored to canonicity and communion (without re-ordination). They were also given autocephaly, in order to ensure unity in the Orthodox Church. If we question the canonicity of the Ukrainian hierarchy under His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv, shouldn’t we also question the canonicity of the Bulgarian hierarchy under His Holiness Patriarch Neophyte of Sofia?
There is the claim that the Kyivan Metropolis was transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate in 1686, and that Constantinople “uncanonically invaded” their territory. This is also untrue. The Patriarchal Letter of Dionysius IV of Constantinople only gives the Patriarch of Moscow permission, by economy, to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv (because of the historical circumstances). The Ecumenical Patriarchate never recognized the uncanonical annexation of the Kyivan Metropolis by the Moscow Patriarchate. As His Eminence Archbishop Job of Telmessos explained, “That was in no way the transfer of the Metropolis of Kyiv under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchs. For such a transmission would be anti-canonical, since in the letter of establishment of the Moscow Patriarchate the limits of canonical influences of the Moscow Patriarchs were recognized at the borders of the Moscow State in 1589. And these limits did not in any way include the Kyivan Metropolis, which included, under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Poland.” (8) The 1686 Letter states, “Nevertheless, whenever this Metropolitan of Kyiv celebrates the sacred, holy and bloodless sacrifice in this diocese, he should commemorate among the first the venerable name of the Ecumenical Patriarch as his source and authority…” (9) If the Kyiv Metropolitan were no longer under the Ecumenical Patriarch, why would he still have to commemorate him as his primate?
The Tomos of Autocephaly given to the Polish Orthodox Church in 1924 states, “…for it is recorded that the first separation from our See of the Kyivan Metropolia and the Orthodox Metropolia of Lithuania and Poland, dependent upon it, as well as their incorporation within the Holy Moscovite Church was accomplished contrary to canon law, as also all that which was agreed upon regarding the full church autonomy of the Kyivan Metropolitan, who at the time had the title Exarch of the Ecumenical See…” In 1970, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras told His Beatitude Patriarch Pimen of Moscow, “…reminding her [the Moscow Patriarchate] that her boundaries are defined, as is also the scope of her jurisdiction, and cannot be extended beyond what was allotted to her by the Golden Seal Certificate of Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II in the year 1591…” (10) The Kyivan Metropolis was not included in the defined territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. It is true that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recognized Metropolitan Onuphry as the Metropolitan of Kyiv, but this was later explained as being out of economy and condescension and before Metropolitan Epiphanios was rightfully elected. Ukraine was not, is not, and never will be the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.
I appeal to Your Beatitude to please recognize the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. They are not schismatics. Those in communion with the First Throne of Orthodoxy cannot be considered schismatics. They are Orthodox Christians, just like us. The schism was healed by the wise actions of Patriarch Bartholomew. Why aren’t we joyous? Why are we still condemning our Ukrainian brothers and sisters as “schismatics”? Why aren’t we being loving and merciful?
Please pray for me, a sinner.