In a brief commentary, Metropolitan Hilarion, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, spoke of the decision made on May 29, 2022, by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church made a judgement on the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which took place on May 27 in Kiev, and expressed all-round support for her archpastors, pastors, monastics and laity over the unprecedented pressure coming from various quarters, such as extremist groups, schismatic structures, local authorities, which, in particular regions in Ukraine, simply prohibit the work of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as from nationalistically-disposed circles of the Ukrainian public.
The Synod stated that the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is defined by the 1990 Charter of Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia. Precisely this Charter is the canonical foundation on which the edifice of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is built.
It was noted that the amendments adopted by the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and included in its Statute require to be considered by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. We have not considered these amendments now since they have not been made public.
The Holy Synod has expressed regret over the fact that a number of the dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have ceased making the liturgical mention of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, which has already led to divisions within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Commenting on these decisions of the Holy Synod, I would like to say not about what has happened in Kiev but about what has not happened. There is an opinion that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has separated from the Russian Orthodox Church. It is not so. No statement on separation from the Russian Orthodox Church was made. No statement was made that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church would have a certain new status. On the contrary, she has reaffirmed again that she has the status of independence and self-governance that was granted to her as far back as 1990.
We should understand the context in which these decisions were made in Kiev. It is because for many years the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been denied the right to be named by the name she calls herself. She is forced to change her name to “the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine”, and the aim of this is the re-registration of all the parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and their expropriation in favour of the schismatic structure.
It is in the context of all that is happening in Ukraine today, in the context of unprecedented pressure made upon the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that these developments should be perceived.
The entire Russian Orthodox Church is praying and will continue praying for the suffering and persecuted Ukrainian Orthodox Church. We believe that the Lord cares for His Church and, as He promised, the gates of Hades will not overcome it.