Please find here our English translation of the letter Patriarch Bartholomew sent on January 8, 2019, to the hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne about Ukraine, after the granting of the tomos. A similar letter was sent to the primates of the Orthodox Churches on December 24, 2018.
“Through our fraternal letter, we wish to inform your beloved Eminence of the following. For a long time, we have been receiving repeated requests from Archbishop Filaret, the former Metropolitan of Kyiv, and from Archbishop Makariy, the former archbishop of Lviv. They were soliciting the great Church, Mother of Christ, to examine their situation favorably, so that they may be received in her communion, having the same Orthodox faith and faithfully keeping the dogmatic definitions, dogmas, and beliefs of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in general. Similarly, we have been receiving for years written and oral requests from the Ukrainian government, concerning the granting of a status of internal administrative independence, namely autocephaly, to the Church of their country.
In the sessions of our venerable Holy Synod, we reflected together on all these situations, not just once and briefly, but in detail. We came to the decision to go forward and take the necessary measures in order to resolve this worsening situation, that for many years has been preoccupying the body of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and because of which millions of Orthodox faithful were outside the ecclesial communion for decades, without guilt on their part.
Therefore, we, the archbishop of Constantinople and the New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, by the grace of the Almighty God, have judged according to the spiritual content of canons 9 and 17 of the holy theophoric fathers gathered in Chalcedon, to receive favorably these requests submitted by the above-mentioned persons and those who were with them. We reestablished them in their hierarchical and presbyteral rank and received them in the ecclesiastical communion with all of us.
Then, we revoked the charter produced by our predecessor Dionysios IV — Memory Eternal. It had been issued in particular historical circumstances. Through it, the Patriarch of Moscow had been granted permission to ordain the metropolitan of Kyiv elected by a holy clerico-lay assembly. As decided then, the elected metropolitan was to commemorate the canonical name of each ecumenical patriarch during his celebrations.
Due to the distortion of the contents of this charter, the described conditions and inviolable provisions, were not respected, including the canonical commemoration. But the Mother Church has been enduring this situation up until now, for the sake of peace and ecclesial unity. However, with the change of external circumstances and the absence of reason for the existence of this charter, we have brought the Kyiv situation back onto the path of canonical accuracy.
After this decision, we accepted the request of these hierarchs to be reinstated in their rank, as well as the State repeated request, to administratively free our dioceses, for the purpose of establishing an autocephalous Church. That is why we convened an extraordinary clerical-lay assembly in Kyiv on Tuesday, December 15, under the chairmanship of the exarch appointed by us, His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France. We invited all the hierarchs of Ukraine, without exception. It is through this cleric-lay assembly, which explicitly reiterated the demand for autocephaly, that His Eminence Metropolitan Epifaniy was declared the first head of the Ukrainian autocephalous Church, by a canonical vote. He has already addressed his formal request related to the vote.
We write this so that your beloved Eminence may be informed in a reliable and valid way. Thus, our Modesty, along with Their Eminences the Metropolitans with us, our dear brothers and concelebrants in the Holy Spirit, who constitute the venerable Holy Synod of our holy patriarchal and ecumenical apostolic see, accepting all this as the order (taxis) requires, and in a spirit of a strong desire to continue the tradition of the holy and great Church of Christ, who has always cared, in a sacrificial and kenotic way, to face and resolve the difficult and insoluble ecclesiastical issues, and who has the exclusive responsibility for granting autocephaly, as is manifest and has been exercised in the situations of all the most recent local sister Churches, we have proclaimed the Holy Ukrainian Church as an autocephalous and self-administered Church, respecting the rights and duties of other autocephalous Churches, as a partner sharing the same dogma and the same faith in all things.
On this basis, drawing up our patriarchal and synodal holy tomos, ratifying and declaring all this, we hereby proceed to this ecclesiastical act by which dogmatic unity is preserved in a flourishing and immutable way, as well as the relationship and the bond of the Holy Church of Ukraine with our holy Great Church of Christ and the ancient Eastern sees, as well as with the other local autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
Its new primate’s title is “His Beatitude the Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine”. All this was completed on January 6th, on the feast of the Theophany, when we gave the tomos of autocephaly to the first primate of the new Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv, and we concelebrated with him. We bring this to the knowledge of Your Eminence, so that as a hierarch of our ecumenical throne, knowing enough the will expressed from long ago in Ukraine, as well as the exclusive responsibility and the privilege belonging to our Church of Constantinople to remedy all the ecclesiastical problems beyond our borders, you may know that we followed the canons in our decisions, by which the most holy Church of Ukraine will henceforth be recognized as autocephalous. The name of each metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine will be commemorated in the holy diptychs immediately after the name of His Beatitude the Primate of the Czech and Slovak Church.
That being said, we all pray to the Founder of the Church, our Lord, that the new daughter-Church, as has been decided, may remain for ever faithful to patristic traditions, in order to serve the body of the Lord in unity, and to produce savory fruits coming from its communion with all of us, who will be without excuse on the Day of Judgment, if we want to ignore our brothers who have been hard-pressed in Ukraine, before the formidable tribunal of the only One who examines the hearts and minds of men, our just judge and Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be honor, power and glory, honor and worship in all ages. Amen.
Source in Greek