#Commentary of Alexander Malkov on Poroshenko’s initiative to establish Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
The state policy of Ukraine in the religious field is directed towards the division of Orthodox believers and violates international religious law. Thus, on April 17, Poroshenko addressed the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople with a request to recognize the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The Verkhovna Rada will consider a decree to support this appeal tomorrow.
In order to look into the matter, let us consider several sides of the organization of the Orthodox world community. So now there are 14 generally recognized local autocephalous churches and the Orthodox Church in America, recognized only by four other local churches as autocephalous ones. The very concept of “autocephalous Church” in Orthodoxy means that it is independent local (that is, a church that has spread in a certain territory) church, completely administratively independent from other local churches, but at the same time it has liturgical and canonical communion with them.
The exclusion of a church from liturgical communication means breaking off legal relations by the world religious community with it, the refusal of the universal orthodoxy to recognize this church as its own. In terms of Ukrainian realities, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is the only recognized canonical church in Ukraine.
The story about the provision of Autocephaly to unrecognized Orthodox churches, which are integrated into a whole, in Ukraine (this refers to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of canonical and several unrecognized denominations, which declared themselves as Orthodox) started almost two years ago, on June 28, in 2016.
Then, the Plenipotentiary Representative of the local Autocephalous Constantinople Church met with the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, who delivered him a request, which was supported by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, of these churches.
Despite violations of church law and civil legislation of Ukraine in the sphere of religion, this request of Poroshenko was considered at the Synod of the Constantinople Church, which decided to refer this issue to a certain commission to study.
Two issues should be pointed out. First of all, according to church law, the Synod of Constantinople had no authority to do so and this issue was not within its competence. Second of all, this whole situation violates the norms of Ukrainian civil law, which approves the separation of Church and state and guarantees the non-interference of the state in the affairs of church government.
Based on this and taking into account the subsequent development of events, we can say that Constantinople politely repulsed Poroshenko’s request in this manner. After all, there have been no more actions so far on his part, which support the president of Ukraine in his unlawful undertakings.
Thus, on April 17, 2018, the Ukrainian authorities reiterated the need to provide canonical autocephaly to some united Church, composed of many unrecognized Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, without waiting for the decision of the Synod of the Constantinople Church. At the same time, the only one that functions in the legal field and the most numerous church in Ukraine, namely the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, is completely ignored.
Thus, a small proportion of the Orthodox believers in Ukraine, who enter illegal, in terms of church law, religious institutions, tries to obtain autocephaly with the support of the illegal authority as them. Naturally, this violates the Constitution of Ukraine in terms of non-interference of the state in church life and politics. Thus, it may lead to the fact that the Ukrainian government unleashes a new war, a religious one this time.
Alexander Malkov, the DPR People’s Council deputy