Archbishop Job of Telmessos (Ecumenical Patriarchate) was interviewed by the BBC about the Ukrainian ecclesial question. The full text of the interview is available here in Russian.
Please find excepts here below. The journalist’s questions are followed by Archbishop Job’s answers:
- Regarding the timing of the creation of the new Church of Ukraine:
“Before making this decision [to grant autocephaly], certain issues still need to be resolved, and in due course, it [the new Church] will appear”.
- How do you consider the hierarchs and priests of the Russian Orthodox Church?
“I consider them as brothers because we, the Church of Constantinople, have not broken our relations with them.”
- Concerning Moscow’s reactions to the action taken by Constantinople:
“Moscow’s reactions are understandable and we were expecting them. But we cannot live under threats and remain indifferent to the salvation of millions of people, only because someone does not wish it. Everyone need to understands to some extent that we need to find a resolution”.
- About the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate:
“Ecumenical Councils have given the same privileges to the Throne of Rome and to that of Constantinople as second after it. If we do not recognize that, it means we do not recognize the teaching of the Ecumenical Councils, and we fall away from Orthodoxy”.
- What will happen if Moscow’s breaking of communion with Constantinople lasts a long time?
“We hope that Moscow will return to reason and to unity with the Ecumenical Throne, because the latter does not want to sever relations with the Orthodox Church in Russia. But if such a situation persists, then the Ecumenical Throne, as the first throne of universal Orthodoxy, will be forced to take certain measures and to resort to certain decisions to ensure the unity of the Church”.
- How many local Orthodox Churches are ready to recognize the new Church in Ukraine:
“I think most of them are ready”.
- The status of the bishops of the “Kyiv Patriarchate” and of the “autocephalous Church of Ukraine”: “These bishops have been reestablished as hierarchs in the universal Church. We are now awaiting the next step, when all these bishops will unite in the new structure, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, to which a tomos of autocephaly will be given. We did not recognize Filaret and Makariy as primates of their churches, we did not say that the Kyiv Patriarchate and the autocephalous Church of Ukraine were legitimate. That would be very illogical. It would mean that we recognized two parallel ecclesial structures, and parallel to the third canonical structure, which would be the Patriarchate of Moscow”.
- The effect of the decision made by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on October 11:
“It is also very important that the decision of the Synod on October 11 abolished the act of 1686. From a canonical point of view, it means that the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate no longer exists in Ukraine. According to the decision of this synod, all the hierarchs in Ukraine are de facto hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, and they must now wait for the directive of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as to their future functioning and existence in the perspective of the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine”.
- Concerning the convocation of the Council by the Ecumenical Patriarch: ”
“When he considers the opportune time has come.”
- How should the new Church be called?
“The Orthodox Church in Ukraine. It must unite all the faithful residing on the territory of Ukraine, regardless of their origin, nationality, or citizenship. All the Orthodox faithful who are on the territory of Ukraine will belong to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine”.
- In this new Church, will the services be celebrated only in Ukrainian?
“Every church in a given region must serve the needs of the faithful. If they speak Russian, Greek, Romanian or English in this territory, the Church must serve them in these languages”.
- Should the new church be presided over by a patriarch?
“At this moment, we are talking about the autocephaly of the Kyiv metropolis. In the history of the Church in Kyiv, there has always been a metropolitan of Kyiv, and soon it is to the Metropolitan of Kyiv that we will grant a tomos of autocephaly. Whether he will be promoted to the rank of patriarch or not is another question.
- The Kyiv Patriarchate claims that they will have the majority of bishops at the Council, so it is guaranteed that Filaret will be the new primate.
“I repeat, if the Ecumenical Patriarch considered the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church and started the process of granting autocephaly, the goal of all this is not to satisfy some personal ambition. The goal is to remedy the schism and to unite Orthodoxy in Ukraine. Thus, I personally think that the main criterion of a person who should be elected leader of the new Orthodox Church in Ukraine must be a person with the necessary charisma to unite people around him. “
- Can Filaret be considered the only candidate?
“At this point, every bishop in Ukraine can be considered a candidate for the position of primate.”
In addition, Archbishop Job highlighted that “in every country, the parliament is made up of deputies elected by the people, that is, in every democracy. And every deputy is the voice of his people. Thus, when the majority of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine addressed the Ecumenical Patriarchate, this means that the majority of the Ukrainian people turned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to ask for autocephaly”.
Finally, as each independent State is entitled to its autocephalous Church, the question was asked whether this is applicable to the 50 African states which are under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Alexandria.
Archbishop Job replied: “I repeat, this is not mandatory. In the Patriarchate of Alexandria, each metropolis and diocese is organized within the framework of each independent State. But if the State wants to have an autocephalous structure for its church, it has the right to do so. ”
Source in Russian