Speaking at the Diocesan Meeting in Kiev on 28 December, Metropolitan Onuphry, the ascetic and leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (representing some 30,000,000 souls in the Church of Rus’ (75% of the whole Orthodox Church) to abstain from the forthcoming All-Orthodox Bishops’ Council. He revealed that this is currently pencilled in to take place (in a still undisclosed location) next June.
The Metropolitan noted that there had been no agreement at pre-Council meetings on issues such as the order of seniority of the Local Churches, the granting of autocephaly, the calendar and the possibility of allowing a second marriage for clergy. He said that if there is no agreement on such issues, then they should be removed from the agenda. (We should note that only certain bishops have even been consulted on the need for such a meeting, let alone on the agenda, and that many in the parishes have never even heard of this forthcoming ‘Council’; an excellent recipe for its non-reception and/or schisms). Metropolitan Onuphry stated that only where there is full agreement, that is, consensus, can such issues remain on the agenda. Otherwise there would be schisms and public disagreements at the meeting. He also mentioned the possibility of trickery, that propositions that had already been rejected would be resubmitted for signature, but in Greek, before there was time for correct translations to be made. He was also concerned that issues which had not been discussed before the meeting could be added to the agenda at the last minute, resulting in what he called ‘farce’.
He declared that the Council of Bishops of the Church would therefore discuss refusing to take part in the ‘Council’ at all. He asserted that participation could become a greater evil than refusing to participate. If a Local Church refused to take part, then such a meeting could not be considered to represent all Orthodox. Calling the so-called ‘Council’ (organized by the elderly and ill Patriarch of Constantinople, who represents only a few million Orthodox) a ‘temptation’, the Metropolitan called on us to pray to God that this temptation be removed from the Church. He added that there was no need to ‘seek a new faith, but to seek the renewal of the human-being, for our faith is holy’. Mentioning the number of saints, he said that they prove that ours is ‘a saving faith’, that we ‘do not need to seek a faith more attuned to our passions’. ‘We do not need to break our faith because of our weakness and pride, but to break ourselves by adapting ourselves to the faith’. He added: ‘God has given us the faith, let us keep it and if someone else makes another faith, then that is his problem, he will have to answer to God’.