On July 27, Metropolitan Epifaniy made a speech before the Local Council of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Primate dedicated a separate part of his address to the topic of patriarchal status for the Church of Ukraine.
Starting this part of the speech, Metropolitan Epifaniy immediately refuted Moscow’s myth that only the Churches that have the status of the patriarchate are truly independent.
He admitted that historically, the title of patriarch is considered more honorable and its bearers stand higher than other prelates in the Diptych. However, according to the archpastor, we should not forget that all Local Churches are equal in their rights, regardless of the title of their primate. And the title itself does not endow its bearer with any exclusive canonical rights and has a historically determined honorary character. Only the Ecumenical Patriarch, Epifaniy emphasized, has the special prerogatives defined by the canons and the Traditions, as the first among the superiors.
At the same time, the archpastor expressed confidence that it would be fair if the top bishop of the Church of Ukraine bore the title of patriarch, because the number of Parthians and believers in the OCU is already greater than a number of patriarchates. Also, the primate emphasized that the history of Christianity in Ukraine dates back to the apostolic times. Given all these features, sooner or later, the OCU should receive patriarchal status.
“When will it happen? We cannot say now. Maybe in five, 10, or 15 years… It should not be of fundamental importance to us. Because what is really important – the status of the autocephalous Local Church – we already have. I am convinced that the issue of the Ukrainian Patriarchate is not a matter of principle (will it exist or not?), but only a matter of time: its proclamation by the Ecumenical Patriarchate will happen sooner or later,” the First Hierarch said.
At the same time, Metropolitan Epifaniy recognized specific obstacles that do not allow Ukraine to talk about having this title granted now.
“Russia’s war against Ukraine, disputes among local churches, which are fueled primarily by Moscow, the active opposition of the Moscow Patriarchate to the unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy – all this objectively prevents us from talking about concrete terms now. All the more, it is too early to raise this issue before the Ecumenical Patriarch,” the metropolitan stated.
But at the same time, under favorable conditions, Epifaniy is sure, the Church of Ukraine can ask for such a status and count on a positive response from the Ecumenical Patriarch.