The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) announced severing ties with the Russian Orthodox Church last May 27, condemning the mass killing amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Through a session of the Holy Synod and a meeting of the council of bishops, the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was formed to become the highest administrative body of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), declaring its full autonomy and independence from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).
In a release, the newly formed council announced its duties which include the preservation of the purity and integrity of Orthodox doctrine and norms of Christianity, maintaining canonical unity among the local and international Orthodox churches, and solving theological, canonical, and pastoral issues concerning the Orthodox church.
They condemned "fratricidal war and Patriarch Kirill's position on the war." In their resolution, they regarded Russian President Vladimir Putin's "military operation on Ukraine" as a violation of God's commandment - "Thou shalt not kill." They also extended their condolences who shed blood and suffered in the war.
The council appealed to Ukraine and Russian Authorities to continue their negotiations to impede the bloodshed caused by the war.
The resolution includes restoring the making of Chrism which according to Christianity Today is a typical sign of autocephaly. It was used to anoint oil during baptism and other liturgical rites and was last made in 1973.
Open For Dialogue With Ukrainian Orthodox Church
In January 2019, the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I granted Ukraine a "Tomos of autocephaly" that separated the church from the Russian Orthodox and recognized the UOC-MP as the only orthodox church that remained under the ROC.
On their move to also separate with ROC, they stated that they "deep regret over the lack of unity in Ukrainian Orthodoxy." Furthermore, the council said they were open to the resumption of dialogue between the two Ukrainian Orthodox Bodies given that UOC would follow their conditions.
The council wanted to break the past schism and aimed not only for the church's unity but to sincerely desire to live on Christian "conscience and moral purity." They also expressed prayers for fraternal unity and expressed hope for ending war and the reconciliation of both countries.
Theological Crisis Brought By War
During the Holy Liturgy, Onufriy mentioned Kirill as a fellow primate, not as his superior. While Kirill said that he understood UOC-MP move to cut ties with them, Moscow Times reported. He understood that His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy and the episcopate should act wisely to not complicate the lives of their believers. Yet added that the "Spirit of Malice" would not be successful in dividing the churches of Russia and Ukraine.
Last February, Prime Asia News reported that more than 65% of UOC-MP supported the Patriarch in its stand on the invasion of Ukraine. However, it changed in April through the petition of 400 priests of UOC-MP, urging the ecclesiastical tribunal to sanction Kirill.
Seminary Professor Andrey Shirin said that these escalations were "truly remarkable." It depicts the war in Ukraine as a crisis on many levels - political, economic, humanitarian, and now a theological crisis.
Related Article: Russian Orthodox Church Divided Over Putin's War Against Ukraine