By Paul Goble
The Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it has appointed as its exacts an archbishop from the US and a bishop from Canada “both of whom are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate … [as part of] preparations for granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine (facebook.com/ecumenicalpatriarchate/posts/10156674751109158).
This is the clearest public statement yet that Patriarch Bartholemew in his role as the senior and universal patriarch has decided to grant autocephaly and has rejected Moscow’s insistence that Ukraine is part of the Russian church’s “canonical territory” and thus must be subject to Moscow’s diktat.
Not surprisingly, the Moscow Patriarchate was outraged. Vladimir Legoyda, who heads the Synod’s department fore relations with society and the media said that Constantinople’s action “without the agreement of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Blessed Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine is an unprecedented crude intervention into the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate” (patriarchia.ru/db/text/5264135.html).
Such actions, Legoyda said, “cannot remain without an answer,” although he did not specify just what that “answer” might look like.