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    Issue of OCU autocephaly lies in administrative plane, not dogmatic – expert

    The issue of autocephaly belongs to the administrative plane, not to the dogmatic one, so the accusations against Constantinople remain unfounded.

    This is according to a Ukraine-based religious expert Oleksandr Yefremenko who commented on the recent report of the rector of the ROCinU’s Kyiv Theological Academy, Bishop Sylvester (Stoychev). The representative of the ROCinU tried to prove by the example of the Novatians and Melitians that by accepting the bishops of the OCU into communication, Constantinople violated the canons of the Ecumenical Councils.

    “As evidence, Stoychev cited a number of historical precedents, but it is worth mentioning one detail that the distinguished speaker omitted. The Novatians and Melitians were considered heretics, and their departure from church was conditioned by issues that affected the teachings of the Church. In particular, it was the ones regarding the punishment of those who have renounced the Church or those who have committed a mortal sin. Such, according to the Novatians, could not be accepted back into the Church, because in this way the Church itself would lose its sanctity. Such an opinion contradicts the Orthodox understanding of the Church. The Council of Laodicea in 364 branded the followers of this doctrine heretics. Melitians opposed those who renounced Christ as a result of persecution, and some historians consider them Arians,” Yefremenko explained.

    In the case of the hierarchy of the former UOC-KP and UAOC, let me remind you that they were not heretics, they did not change anything in the teachings of the Church, they never established anything new, and neither did they renounce Christ and the Orthodox faith,” said the religious expert. “Their artificial canonical isolation was due to the desire to gain autocephaly for the Ukrainian Church.”

    “I would like to emphasize once again that the issue of autocephaly is not dogmatic, but lies in the administrative plane. Therefore, the given examples do not relate to them and are seen as incompetent, and therefore, the accusations against Constantinople are groundless,” Oleksandr Yefremenko concluded.

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