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Archbishop Job (Getcha) of Telmessos: “Ukraine has always

been the canonical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”


The dialogue regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople granting autocephaly to the
Ukrainian Church and the appointment of its exarchs to Ukraine for this purpose, has resulted in
opposition from the Moscow Patriarchate and their break in concelebrating with the hierarchs of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate, has recently been one of the main topics of conversation that do no cease in
Ukrainian society and Media. There are a lot of rumors and incompetent comments. In order to hear
firsthand what is actually happening, we turned to a direct participant in this process - the renowned
Orthodox theologian and hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Archbishop Job (Getcha) of
Telmessos (Geneva, Switzerland). He was born in 1974 in Montreal, Canada, in a Ukrainian
emigrant family. Doctor of theology, professor of the Institute of Superior Studies of Orthodox
Theology at the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy and of the Catholic
University of Paris (France), permanent representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the World
Council of Churches in Geneva, co-chair of the Joint International Commission on Theological
Dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches. With the blessing of the
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, he was one of the main spokesmen of the Holy and Great Council
of the Orthodox Church in Crete from 19 to 26 June 2016. He is fluent in six languages: English,
French, Greek, Ukrainian, Russian and Italian. He is deeply knowledgeable in Ukrainian church
history. He defended his doctoral dissertation on the topic “Liturgical reform of Metropolitan Cyprian
of Kiev (1330 – 1406 AD)”.

- Vladyka Job, as is known, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has


decided to send their representatives (exarchs) to Ukraine to negotiate
with representatives of various Ukrainian Churches regarding the
possible granting of autocephaly. However, the Synod of the Moscow

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Patriarchate took such an extremely critical step, stating that it was an
“illegal invasion of the canonical territory” of Moscow, and even
declared a cessation of concelebration with the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. Would you please comment on the truthfulness of
Moscow’s statements? Was the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
really unlawful and non-canonical?

Archbishop Job: I would like to immediately reassure everyone that no


“intrusion into foreign canonical territory” had been intended nor had
been made. And what’s more, it’s not about creating a split or its
legitimization. On the contrary, as the Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew has repeatedly stated, the Church of Constantinople, as
the Mother Church, seeks to find the most optimal canonical ways to
cure and overcome the existing ecclesiastical schism in Ukraine. It was
for this purpose that the representatives (exarchs) of the Ecumenical
Throne were appointed to start a dialogue and search for such possible
ways. For the state of division that has existed in the Ukrainian Church
for almost 30 years is not natural. Thousands of Orthodox parishes and
millions of Orthodox believers in Ukraine through this schism all this
time are outside the unity with the Universal Orthodox Church,
deprived not only of the Eucharistic unity with their Orthodox brethren
in faith, but also deprived of the most important thing – salvation in the
bosom of the canonical Church. Of course, this cannot cause anything
but pain and anxiety in the Mother Church.

All these years, the Church of Constantinople, with pain, watched her
daughter, the Ukrainian Church, suffering from internal division. At the
Ecumenical Patriarchate, we hoped that this problem would be cured by
internal means and forces, constantly praying for this and never praying
without forgetting the long-suffering Ukrainian Orthodox people. But
the events of the last 30 years, and especially after 2014, clearly testify
that the internal forces of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine cannot alone
overcome the problem of the schism and unite, as it is hindered by
external political factors and influences, in particular, by the neighboring
Russian state. And for the latter, apparently, the most important thing is
not the promotion of the unification of the Ukrainian Church, but the
preservation through the Church of its political influence in Ukraine.
Here we see other goals whose achievement requires the use of other
means. Probably because of this the Orthodox Church in Russia, under
the influence of some political factors, is not able to ensure the unity of

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the Orthodox faithful of Ukraine, does not seek to dialogue with those
who for some reason are outside the canonical church borders, and
therefore does not seek to find the best means of the canonical economy
for the return of these faithful in the bosom of the Universal Church. The
latest statements of the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate only confirm
the latter. For now, for the sake of their own political ambitions, they
went not only to break off from part of the Orthodox flock in Ukraine,
but also broke from Universal Orthodoxy. It is very dangerous, sad and
unpleasant. This is a non-canonical way, which does not serve to heal
the schism, but on the contrary, grows the split and the schism.

We hope that this hasty and non-canonical decision of our Russian


brothers will be canceled and that the dialogue will be restored, because
it is impossible, as a result of political ambitions, to split and break the
Body of Christ. At the same time, in this situation, the Ecumenical
Patriarchate, as the Mother Church, is more than obliged to be with its
Orthodox sons and daughters in Ukraine, who for almost 30 years have
been constantly asking them to give them a canonical shelter and to help
them overcome the schism. This is her direct canonical duty, as Mother
Church. It is precisely this concern for the destiny and salvation of the
Ukrainian Orthodox flock that led to the last decisions of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate regarding the appointment of its legates (exarchs) to
Ukraine, which would help to start an effective dialogue on-site between
the various parts of the so far divided Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

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- Can you please comment on the decision of Constantinople to
appoint its own exarchs in Ukraine from a historical and canonical
rationale? Have there already been such canonical historical
precedents? And if yes, is this not “an invasion of another's canonical
territory”?

Archbishop Job: Immediately, in order to remove all speculation about


artificial accusations in “invading another’s canonical territory,” I note
that the territory of Ukraine has never been a canonical territory of any
other Local Orthodox Church, except the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The
Metropolis of Kiev was canonically and historically, since its foundation
in the days of the first Kievan Christian princes Askold, Olga and
Vladimir, and more than 700 years later, was a metropolis of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate. And even after the transfer of part of the
Kievan throne to the Russian territories under the temporary care of the
Moscow Patriarchs in 1686, Ukraine always remained a canonical
territory of the Constantinopolitan Church.

Regarding the historical precedents of the appointment of exarchs of the


Ecumenical Patriarch to Ukraine, history can provide many examples. In

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order to not go too far, we may turn to the close 20th century. Since the
lands of Galicia and Transcarpathia were still considered to be the
canonical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the beginning of the
20th century, the Metropolitan of Kiev, Anthony (Khrapovitsky), a
member of the Synod of the Russian Church, for the purpose of
exercising care over the Orthodox flock in these Ukrainian lands, wrote
requesting the permission and blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarchs,
and even requested for this purpose to give him the title of Exarch of the
Ecumenical Patriarch in Galicia and Transcarpathia. And with this title
of the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Galicia and Transcarpathia,
this Russian hierarch was endowed with the Charter of Ecumenical
Patriarch Ioakim III in 1910. Later, this title of the Exarch for him was
confirmed by Ecumenical Patriarch Germanos V (1913 – 1918).

Consequently, at the beginning of the 20th century the Russian Church


itself requested the appointment of its bishop as the Exarch of the
Ecumenical Patriarch in the Ukrainian lands, and then it did not
consider it “an invasion of another’s canonical territory.” Therefore, it is
not clear on what basis now the Synod of the Orthodox Church in
Russia has changed its position and is trying to deny the Mother Church
the right to appoint exarchs to the lands that historically and canonically
have been the canonical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

It should be added here that the institution of exarchs (legates) of the


Ecumenical Patriarch in Ukraine has long been a well-established
tradition. When, in 1596, part of the episcopate, led by the Metropolitan
of Kiev, fell into a split from the Church of Constantinople and became
united with Rome, then two bishops, Gedeon of Lviv and Michael of
Peremyshl, remained faithful to Orthodoxy and to the Ecumenical
Throne. Consequently, Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios (Pegas) appointed
Bishop Gedeon (Balaban) of Lviv as his Exarch in Ukraine and locum
tenens of the Metropolis of Kiev. At the same time, Archdeacon
Nikiphoros (Kantakouzenos) was also appointed as Exarch of the
Ecumenical Patriarch and he presided at the anti-union Orthodox
Council in Brest and contributed to the preservation of the Orthodox
Church in Ukraine. For this he was accused by the unionist bishops and
the Polish authorities of espionage in favour of Turkey, which was why
he was imprisoned in the Malbork Castle, where he died in 1599. In
2001, the Synod of the UOC (MP) glorified this Exarch of the Ecumenical
Patriarch as a holy martyr. Therefore, we have not only historical

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precedents for the appointment of the Exarchs of the Ecumenical
Patriarch in Ukraine, but also have revered saints among them.

Another well-known Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Ukraine was


the successor of Gedeon (Balaban) on the throne of Lviv – Bishop
Jeremiah (Tysarovsky, +1641). Together with the title of Bishop of Lviv,
Jeremiah inherited from Gedeon the title of the Exarch of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate and the post of the locum tenens of the Kiev metropolitan
throne. From 1610, he remained the only Orthodox bishop in the
Commonwealth for 10 years, until 1620, when the patriarch of
Jerusalem, Theophanes III, with the blessing of the Ecumenical
Patriarch, restored the Orthodox hierarchy in Ukraine and ordained a
new Metropolitan of Kiev, Job (Boretsky). Since that time, the Orthodox
Metropolitans of Kiev have been consistently bearing the canonical title
of the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch, which they were still obliged
to bear after the temporary transfer of the Metropolis of Kiev in 1686
under the temporary care (administration) of the Moscow Patriarchs.

Incidentally, in addition to the rights of the Exarchs, the Ecumenical


Patriarchs also granted, at that time, a whole range of Ukrainian
monasteries and brotherhoods the status of stavropegic, that is, they
were transferred into direct subordination to the Ecumenical Throne. In
particular, the stavropegic monasteries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in
Ukraine included the Kievan Caves Lavra (since 1589), the Lviv
Dormition Brotherhood (since 1589), the Kyiv Theophany Brotherhood
(from 1620), the Manyava Skete (from 1620), the Lutsk Brotherhood of
the Elevation of the Cross (since 1623). These Acts of the Mother Church
concerning the patriarchal stavropegic monasteries in Ukraine have not
been abolished.

- Thank you, now it is clear that the appointment of the Exarchs in


Ukraine is the canonical and historical prerogative of the Patriarchs of
Constantinople. But how did all this look after 1686? Is it true that
after this date that the territory of Ukraine was not the “canonical
territory of the Moscow Patriarchate”?

Archbishop Job: That’s right. Ukraine was and remained, even after
1686, the canonical territory only of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. After
Left-bank Ukraine joined the Moscow State in the middle of the 17th
century, the Kievan Church was divided into parts between different

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rival countries (Russia, Poland and Turkey), which is was why they
could not choose a single Metropolitan for a long time in Kiev. In this
difficult situation, the Ecumenical Patriarch, in order not to leave the
entire Ukrainian flock without archpastoral care, part of the Kievan
Church in the territories subordinate to Russia were transferred to the
Moscow Patriarchate in 1686 for temporary guardianship, in order to
help him put a metropolitan in Kiev and bishops in the other dioceses of
Left Bank Ukraine (Cossack Hetmanate). At the same time, the principle
requirement was that the Metropolitans of Kiev continued to remain
autonomous from Moscow as Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarch and
that they would commemorate his name without exception at all divine
services. That was in no way the transfer of the Metropolis of Kiev under
the authority of the Moscow Patriarchs. For such a transmission would
be anti-canonical, since in the letter of establishment of the Moscow
Patriarchate the limits of canonical influences of the Moscow Patriarchs
were recognized at the borders of the Moscow State in 1589. And these
limits did not in any way include the Kievan Metropolis, which
included, under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland.

It was similar to that, as in 66 years before, in 1620, with the blessing of


Patriarch of Constantinople, Timothy II, the Patriarch Theophanes III of
Jerusalem ordained an Orthodox Metropolitan and Bishops in Kyiv,
namely, he restored the Orthodox hierarchy in Ukraine. But at the same
time, we do not say that since that time the Metropolis of Kiev became
dependent on the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The same was the case in
1686. Because in Constantinople it was not possible to think that in the
Moscow Church, the daughter would violate the agreements and try to
force the abolition of the canonical jurisdiction of the Constantinople
Mother of the Church in Ukraine. Because of this, after the collapse of
the Russian Empire, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with a separate tomos
in order to provide autocephaly to the Church of Poland on 13
November 1924, was forced to declare the act of 1686 non-canonical and
ineffective.

- And was it easy to subordinate the part of the Kievan Church to


the Russian Church?

Archbishop Job: These actions have stumbled upon the opposition of


the Ukrainian Orthodox clergy. Suffice it to mention such prominent

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Ukrainian hierarchs as Sylvester Kosov, Joseph Nebulovich-Tukalsky,
Barlaam Yasinsky, Ioasaph Krokovsky, Barlaam Vonatovich,
Theophylact Lopatinsky, Arseny Matseevich, Barlaam Shyshatsky, and
many others who suffered a lot from the non-canonical actions of the
Russian government and the leadership of the Russian Church.

By the way, within the limits of the Left Bank of Ukraine (Hetmanate),
just after the events of 1686, an internal ecclesiastical movement has
gained new force, known as the “wandering” or “wild priests”. Its
essence was that Ukrainian Orthodox parishes on the Left Bank, not
wanting to recognize the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate, invited
priests ordained in the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to
serve them in the Right Bank Ukraine or in Moldovo-Wallachia.
Throughout the entire XVIII century, the Russian secular and
ecclesiastical administration brutally persecuted this movement and its
representatives, capturing and imprisoning the so called “non-
canonical” priests. But despite this until the end of the XVIII century,
believers from the left bank of Ukraine went to Moldo-Wallachia for a
priestly ordination from the bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
escaping the Russian Synodal Administration at risk to life. And the
hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not actually deny the
Orthodox faithful from the left-bank Ukraine in such requests.

There is a very little-known fact: in 1724, Georges, the Metropolitan of


Iasi, along with other Moldavian bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
without the consent of the Russian Synod, ordained as of Bishop
Chygyryn Archimandrite Epiphanius, assistant and chief of the office of
the Kiev Archbishop Barlaam (Vonatovych). In the decree presented by
Epiphanius, written on behalf of Archbishop Varlaam and addressed to
the Moldovan Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the
dissatisfaction of Ukrainians was emphasised concerning the
withdrawal of the Kievan Metropolitanate from the jurisdiction of
Constantinople, the introduction of the “Spiritual Regulation” [of Peter
the Great] and of the synodal administration [of the Russian Church], as
well as the demise of the Kiev Metropolitans to the rank of archbishops.

Having received his episcopal ordinaion from the hierarchs of the


Ecumenical Patriarchate, the bishop of Chygyryn returned to Ukraine,
where he deployed his activity and ordained 14 priests and deacons. He
was repeatedly imprisoned by the Russian authorities, but each time he

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fled from prisons. It is known that he served within the territories
controlled by the Zaporozhian Cossacks. During his additional exile to
Siberia in 1733, bishop Epiphanius, wrapped in chains, was taken away
from the guard by the Russian Cossacks, the Old Believers, and hid in
Gomel oblast, in Vietka. However, in February 1735, Russian troops, on
the orders of the Empress Anna Ivanovna, surrounded Vietka, and
Bishop Epiphanius was again arrested. He died in the prison of Kiev
fortress on April 1 of the same year and was buried near the church of
St. Theodosius in the Fortress of the Kiev Caves Lavra.

Another interesting fact was that during 1759 in the Zaporozhian Sich,
the Bishop of Melitene Anatole (Meles) acted as an independent bishop
of the Ecumenical Patriarch Cyril V. With the support of the
Zaporozhian Cossacks, and without the permission of the Russian
Synod, he headed Zaporozhian churches during a whole year and
commemorated the Ecumenical Patriarchs. For this he was imprisoned
by the Russian authorities and exiled to Siberia, where he was sentenced
for about 9 years. According to many researchers, bishop Anatole
(Meles) tried to create a separate autonomous Cossack diocese in
Zaporozhye under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

- It is very interesting. Yet you said that in 1686, only the part of the
Kievan Church in the territories of the Russian territories was
transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate under the guardianship
(patronage). And what about other Ukrainian lands that were not part
of the Russian state?

Archbishop Job: That's right. And this is a very important point, which
for some reason everyone forgets when talking about the act of 1686.
After all, after the transfer of a part of the see of Kiev in the Russian
territories to the temporary administration of the Moscow Patriarchs, in
other territories of Ukraine, which were not part of the Moscow state,
the Orthodox parishes and monasteries continued to remain under the
omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. That is, the act of 1686
concerned the Ukrainian territories of the Hetmanate, which were
temporarily part of the Russian state, but had no canonical influence on
other Ukrainian territories, in particular, Transcarpathia, Bukovina,
Podolia, Galicia, Volynia, Khan's Ukraine in the south and Crimea. All

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these territories continued to remain under the canonical omophorion of
the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

- Can you tell us more about it? Because nobody writes about this fact...

Archbishop Job: Yes. In fact, after 1686, much more Ukrainian lands
remained under the direct jurisdiction of Constantinople. Thus, in
particular, the diocese of Lvov did not recognize the transition to the
temporary administration of the Moscow Patriarchs. Since 1675, the
Orthodox Archbishop of Lvov was appointed administrator of the
Metropolis of Kiev and of the archimandria of the Kiev Caves Lavra
under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. After 1686, the
diocese of Lvov remained in the canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. This status was lost after 1700 when the Archbishop of
Lvov Joseph Shumlyansky under the pressure of the Polish authorities
switched to the union with Rome and thus the Orthodox diocese of
Lvov remained vacant. Under the direct jurisdiction of Constantinople
retained the Lvov Stavropegic Brotherhood until 1708, when it was
forced to accept the union with Rome. However, even after that, the
Orthodox parishes and monasteries in Galicia remained in the
jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchs, and were temporary
administered by the Bukovinian metropolitans, who were also part of
the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The most famous monastery and the center
of Orthodoxy in Galicia and Subcarpathia was the Great Maniava Skete,
whose brothers remained loyal to the Ecumenical Throne until its
violent liquidation in 1785 (that is, 100 years after the events of 1686).

It is worth mentioning another important fact. On June 15, 1791, the


Local Council of the Orthodox clergy and believers from Western
Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland, which became known as the
Pinsk Congregation, was held in Pinsk on the territory of the Monastery
of the Theophany. The Pinsk Council was attended by 103 delegates
from the Orthodox clergy, monasticism and laity. It approved a decision
to restore autonomy under the omophorion of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. The hegumen of Bielsk, Sava (Palmovsky), was elected
interim head of the Pinsk congregation. It was planned to convene a
synod, which would consist of one archbishop with the prerogatives of a
metropolitan and three bishops. Also, the “permanent and basic norms
and rules of organization” of the Orthodox Church in the Polish-
Lithuanian Commonwealth were developed as an autonomous

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ecclesiastical jurisdiction that did not depend on the Russian Synod and
recognized the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch. At a meeting on
May 21, 1792, by a majority of votes (123 votes for, 13 against), the Polish
Sejm approved the constitution proposed by the Pinsk Congregation for
a draft of a new organization of the Orthodox Church in the
Commonwealth, which was endowed with great rights and freedoms in
the state. However, because of the two new divisions of the
Commonwealth and the elimination of the Polish state, the Pinsk Local
Council and the Act of May 21, 1792, had practically not been
implemented in practice.

It is important to emphasize that Orthodox Ukrainians in Bukovina,


Transcarpathia and Galicia for a long time remained under the auspices
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. These lands became part of the Moscow
Patriarchate only in the middle of the twentieth century during the
Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine, and their subjection by force to
Moscow was never recognized by the Ecumenical Throne.

- And you have already mentioned the jurisdiction of Constantinople


within the boundaries of "Khan's Ukraine" and the Crimea. Can you tell
a little more about this?

Archbishop Job: Yes. In Crimea there existed ancient metropolis of


Gothia and Kapha until the end of the 17th century, under the
Ecumenical Patriarchate. They were composed of Orthodox Greeks,
Bulgarians, Ukrainians and other nationalities of Crimea and the Black
Sea. They were liquidated by the Russian government in 1788 after the
annexation of the Crimean Khanate. However, the Ecumenical
Patriarchate has never recognized the legality of their subordination to
the Russian Synod and the elimination of these historic Metropolises in
Crimea.

In addition, the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was


invariably extended to Ukrainian Bukovina and the southern (the so-
called “Khan”) part of Ukraine, which was officially then under the
protectorate of the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire. Even
Hetman Petro Doroshenko tried to form a Ukrainian state under the
protectorate of the Ottoman sultans, as it was in Moldo-Wallachia. His
associates were Metropolitan Joseph (Nielubovich-Tukalsky), who
advocated the preservation of the Kievan Metropolis in the jurisdiction

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of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. As a result of Hetman Doroshenko’s
attempts at the Treaty of Buchach in 1672, the entire territory of the
Eastern and Western Podolia (from Buchach to Bratslav) withdrew from
Poland. In the territory of Ukrainian Podolia, from 1672 to 1699, there
was the Podolsky or Kamianetsky Eyalet (from the Ottoman Turkish for
province or governate) within the Ottoman Empire with an
administrative centre in Kamianets (now Kamianets-Podilsky). After the
death of Metropolitan Joseph (Nielubovich-Tukalsky), Ecumenical
Patriarch Jacob nominated Metropolitan Pankratius for the city of
Kamenets in August 1681, thus establishing the Metropolis of Kamianets
as part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (which existed until 1699).

Later, the boundaries of Khan Ukraine (Ottoman Ukraine) included


Ukrainian lands between the Dnieper and the Dniester, to which the
protectorate of the Crimean khans and the Ottoman sultans spread.
These lands were nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, and there were
even no Ottoman settlements, except for some towns in the south. After
the defeat of Ivan Mazepa in the struggle for Ukraine’s independence
and the destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich by Peter I, during the
period of 1711-1734, within the boundaries of Khan Ukraine, under the
patronage of the Crimean Khan in the tract of Oleshka, opposite the
modern city of Kherson, the new Zaporozhian Sich (so-called Olekshy
Sich), the clergy of which was equally under the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. From 1712, the Cossack possessions of the Olekshy Sich
spread north to the left tributaries of the Dnieper River - the Orel and
Samara rivers. That is, all these areas of modern southern Ukraine not
only were not part of the Russian Empire, but also remained in the
jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Therefore, the act of 1686
was not applied to them in any way.

The lands of “Khan Ukraine” and Orthodox parishes and monasteries


within its borders were part of the Metropolis of Braila of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate. Its centre was originally Braila on the left bank
of the Danube. From 1751 to 1789, the residence of Metropolitan of
Braila became the city of Izmail (now in Odessa Oblast, Ukraine). The
Metropolis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate belonged to the land of
Dobrudja, Budjaka, Bender, and after the signing of the Buchach Peace
Treaty of 1672 – the Diocese of Khotyn and all the Orthodox territories
and parishes of Right-Bank and Left-Bank Ukraine under the
protectorate of the Ottoman Empire, in particular, Khan Ukraine,

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Olekshy Sich and the Orthodox communities located on the mainland of
the Crimean Khanate.

From 1751 to 1773 Metropolitan Daniel of Braila had his see in Izmail
and in ecclesiastical documents he signed as “Daniel, by the mercy of
God, Metropolitan of Parivlavia, Tomarovsky, Khotyn, the entire coast
of the Danube, Dnieper and Dniester, and of all Khan Ukraine.” The title
was also preserved by the successors of Daniel: Metropolitans Joachim
(1773-1780) and Cyril (1780-1792). This is already 100 years after the 1686
act.

After the violent liquidation of Zaporozhian Sich in 1775 by Catherine II,


many Cossacks moved to the territories controlled by the Ottoman
Empire, where a new Danubian Sich was founded on the banks of the
Danube. It lasted until the middle of the 19th century, and its church
recognized only the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

As we see, all these facts testify that the act of 1686 concerned only the
Left-bank part of Ukraine, which was then under the authority of
Moscow and did not actually apply to other Ukrainian territories.

- You said that after the first destruction by the Russian troops of
the Zaporozhian Sich in 1709, the Ukrainian Cossacks, which went
under the protectorate of the Crimean Khan, returned under the
jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And what about the
Ukrainian hetmans Ivan Mazepa and Pylyp Orlyk, who led this first
Ukrainian emigration?

Archbishop Job: They were among the first to return to the omophorion
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Cossacks with them. Despite the
imposition of uncanonical anathemas on Hetman Mazepa by the
Russian Church, the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate did
not recognize them because they were imposed with political motives as
a means of political and ideological repression and had no religious,
theological or canonical reasons. So, upon emigration to Bender, Ivan
Mazepa freely confessed to Orthodox priests of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. It was they who nurtured him on his deathbed, released
him from sins, and then they buried him. His body was laid in the
Orthodox church of the town of Varnitsa, which was under the
jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and subsequently reburied

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in Galati on the Danube, where the local Metropolitan served a funeral
service for the Hetman in the central cathedral of St. George’s
Monastery. This Metropolitan was a hierarch of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. So, we can say that Ivan Mazepa died as a believer of
Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate!

Very interesting and valuable in this regard is the historical document,


known as the first Ukrainian Constitution of 5 April 1710. It was a
peculiar constitutional pact between the newly elected, following the
death of Mazepa, Hetman Pylyp Orlik and the whole Zaporozhian Host.
Thus, in the first paragraph of this first Ukrainian Constitution, an
obligation was made to restore the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate over the Metropolis of Kiev and the title of Metropolitans of
Kiev as Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchs. In particular, the
Constitution of 1710 reads as follows:

“The current newly elected Hetman, when the Lord God, mighty and
strong in the battles, will help … to liberate our Motherland, Little
Russia, from the slavish yoke of Moscow, will be bound by duty and
put under obligation to take special care that no alien religion is
introduced into Little Russia, our Motherland … so that the only faith in
the Eastern Orthodox confession, under the obedience of the Holy
Apostolic See of Constantinople, was eternally approved … And for the
greater authority of the Kievan metropolitan throne, which is foremost
in Little Russia, and for a more efficient administration of spiritual
matters, the Almighty Hetman should, after the liberation of our
fatherland from the Muscovite yoke, obtain from the Apostolic See of
Constantinople the original power of an exarch in order thereby to
renew relationship with and filial obedience to the aforementioned
Apostolic See of Constantinople, from which it was privileged to have
been enlightened in the holy universal faith by the preaching of the
Gospel”.

So, as we see, the Constitution of Hetman Pylyp Orlyk and of the


Zaporizhian Host, as the first testament for all successive generations of
Ukraine, vowed to return the Metropolis of Kiev to the jurisdiction of
the Ecumenical Patriarchate and restore the authority of the Kiev
Metropolitans as Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchs. Therefore, there
is nothing surprising that today’s Presidents of independent Ukraine
have already tried and are trying to fulfill this will by initiating a

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renewal of dialogue with the Mother Church, the Ecumenical
Patriarchate.

- And in our time, especially in the 20th century, did the jurisdiction
of the Patriarchate of Constantinople extend to some territory of
Ukraine?

Archbishop Job: Yes, in particular in Transcarpathia. And this is a very


important point. After all, Transcarpathia, historically and canonically
before the arrival of the Soviet occupation troops in the middle of the
20th century, was canonically part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s
jurisdiction, and this land was never a “canonical territory” of the
Moscow Patriarchate.

At the very beginning of the conversation, we already mentioned that,


as a member of the Synod of the Russian Church, Metropolitan Anthony
(Khrapovitsky), for the purpose of pastoral care of the Orthodox flock in
these Ukrainian lands, wrote to the Ecumenical Patriarchs seeking their
permission and blessing, and even asked for the title of the Exarch
Ecumenical Patriarch in Galicia and Transcarpathia. That is, the synodal
Russian Church itself recognized these Ukrainian lands as the
jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and one of its leading
hierarchs used the title of the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch in
Galicia and Transcarpathia.

On the basis of this historical and canononical right concerning the


Orthodox dioceses on the territory of Western Ukraine and Western
Belarus occupied by Poland, the Ecumenical Patriarchate issued a
Tomos on 13 November 1924 granting autocephaly to the Orthodox
Church in Poland. This Tomos overturned the act of 1686, which
transferred the Kievan throne, for temporary responsibility
(administration), to the Moscow Patriarch. The Tomos of the Ecumenical
Patriarch of 1924 states that this annexation contradicted the canons and
that the Moscow Patriarchate did not comply with the requirements
stipulated in the Act of 1686, according to which the Metropolis of Kiev
was to maintain its rights of autonomy and its canonical link with the
Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Thus, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Poland (and, in fact, in


Western Ukraine and in Western Belarus) was proclaimed as the

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successor to the historic Autonomous Metropolis of Kiev-Galicia under
the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Incidentally, the head of the autocephalous
Orthodox Church in Poland, the Metropolitan of Warsaw and all
Poland, was considered as the superior of the Holy Dormition Pochaev
Lavra. During the German occupation, already in 1941, startng from the
Western Ukrainian dioceses under the Orthodox Church in Poland, with
the blessing of its Primate, Metropolitan Dionysius (Valedinsky) of
Warsaw, according to the decree of 24 December 1941, an
“Administration of the Orthodox Church on the liberated Ukrainian
lands” was created, headed by its administrator, Metropolitan Polycarp
(Sikorsky) of Lutsk, who was a canonical bishop of the autocephalous
Orthodox Church in Poland. This administration is often called the
“Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC), but this label is
not correct, because it was an extension of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction
of the autocephalous Orthodox Church in Poland in the German-
occupied parts of the Ukrainian lands, on the assumption that the
Church of Poland had received its autocephaly on the basis of the
Kievan Metropolis. The locum tenens of the metropolitan throne of Kiev
at the time was considered to be Metropolitan Dionysius (Valedinsky) of
Warsaw, who was declared as the canonical Primate of the
autocephalous Orthodox Church in the territories of Poland, Ukraine
and Belarus, recognized by the Ecumenical Throne and other Local
Orthodox Churches.

- This concerns Ukrainian Galicia, Volynia, Podolia and other


lands. But back to Transcarpathia…

Archbishop Job: Here the situation developed a little differently. After


the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ukrainian Transcarpathia
fell under the control of Czechoslovakia. And Orthodox parishes
canonically entered under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
and for a brief time at the beginning of the 20th century – the Patriarchate
of Serbia. On 4 March 1923, the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
presided by Patriarch Meletios IV, appointed Bishop Savvaty (Vrabets,
1880-1959), a former graduate of the Kiev Theological Academy, as
Archbishop of Prague and decided that the Orthodox parishes of
Transcarpathia belong to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Since then, the Ukrainian Orthodox parishes of Transcarpathia finally
became established under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical

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Patriarchate, where they remained until the arrival of Soviet occupation
troops.

On 9 November 1939, the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch


Archbishop Savvaty (Vrabets) informed Archpriest Michael Popov by a
letter, stating that he intends to ordain him as a bishop or general vicar
for Transcarpathia and Hungary. On 26 September 1940, Archbishop
Savvaty (Vrabets) issued a decree according to which Archpriest M.
Popov was appointed Administrator of the Orthodox Church in
Transcarpathia and Hungary under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate, and he was also given the title of Protopresbyter. On 5
October 1940, Archbishop Savvaty (Vrabets), in a letter to Ecumenical
Patriarch Benjamin, asked to ordain Fr. M. Popov as bishop of the
Orthodox Church in Transcarpathia and Hungary under the jurisdiction
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. However, on 30 May 1942, the Germans
arrested Archbishop Savvaty (Vrabets) who spent 3 years at the Dachau
concentration camp (1942-1945). After his release, he was not allowed by
the new occupying (Soviet) administration to perform his duties because
he refused to break with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Until the end of
his life he was persecuted and pressured by the communist regime and
died on 14 December 1959.

Even more tragic was the fate of the Administrator of the


Transcarpathian diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Protopresbyter
Michael Popov. On 13 June 1944, he was arrested by the Nazis on
suspicion of baptising Jewish children. At the end of December 1944, Fr.
M. Popov was sent to Germany for forced labor, but during his transfer
he managed to escape. At the beginning of April 1947 in Budapest, Fr.
M. Popov was arrested by the Soviet authorities of the NKVD. On 9
September 1947, he was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment on charges
of “anti-Soviet activity”. He was sent to a concentration camp in Vorkuta
(Komi ASSR), where he died as a martyr for the faith of Christ.

- So, it turns out that the canonical structures of the Patriarchate of


Constantinople survived in Transcarpathia until 1946?

Archbishop Job: Yes, it was until 1946. And they were forcibly annexed
with the help of the NKVD punitive bodies to the Moscow Patriarchate,
and those who refused, were repressed and destroyed as martyrs for the
faith of Christ. And, importantly, Constantinople has never

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acknowledged the destruction by the communist regime of the diocese
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Transcarpathia and its accession to
another jurisdiction. This accession was non-canonical and violent. And
it was not 300 years ago, but in 1946.

An echo of the Transcarpathian region under the omophorion of the


Ecumenical Patriarchate is the American Carpatho-Ruthenian Orthodox
Diocese, preserved in the USA and Canada to this day and existing
within the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is currently presided by Bishop of
Nyssa Gregory (Tatsis).

Incidentally, it was the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop


Savvaty (Vrabets), who participated, on 19 October 1940, in the
cathedral of Chelm, together with the Metropolitan of Warsaw,
Dionysius (Valedinsky), in the episcopal ordination of Fr. Ilarion (Prof. I.
Ohienko) as the bishop of Chelm and Podlachia, who subsequently went
into exile and headed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, now
under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Another prominent Ukrainian ecclesiastical figure under the


omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was the Metropolitan of
Eukarpia Bogdan (Shpilka, 1892 – 1965). In the 1920’s, he was engaged in
teaching activities in Transcarpathia and was ordained there as a priest
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Archbishop of Prague Savvaty
(Vrabets). In 1936, he was elected a bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox
Church in America, which was under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. Subsequently, he became a metropolitan, was an author of
the Orthodox catechism in Ukrainian and English, and of polemical
pamphlets. The UOC-USA, which now operates in North America
under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is the successor to
the “Administration of the Orthodox Church in the liberated Ukrainian
lands” of Metropolitan Polycarp (Sikorsky) and the UOC of America of
Metropolitan Bogdan (Shpylka). Another Ukrainian jurisdiction under
the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the already mentioned
UOC in Canada.

So, as we see, the spread of the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical


Patriarchate to the Ukrainian Territories and the Ukrainian Diaspora has
a direct historical-canonical continuity. Therefore, all the accusations
against Constantinople regarding “invasion of another's canonical

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territory” are groundless here, since Constantinople has always had its
canonical structures in different areas of modern Ukraine from 860 and
988 years, and from 1686 until 1946. Therefore, in principle, not only the
act of 1696, but there are also more recent precedents of the spread of the
jurisdiction of Constantinople to various territories of Ukraine.

- And what can you explain that the Patriarchate of


Constantinople has just started to recall that Ukraine has historically
been and is its canonical territory?

Archbishop Job: This is not quite so. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of


Constantinople has emphasized this on many occasions. Another thing
is that while Ukraine was not an independent state and was part of the
Russian Empire or the communist USSR, it was a futile thing to speak
about it. It is another thing when Ukraine gained state independence…
Although, in the very Act of 1686, the transfer of the Kievan throne to
the temporary care (administration) of the Moscow Patriarchs indicated
that the Metropolitans of Kiev should recognize the authority of the
Ecumenical Patriarch, commemorate his name at all worship services
without exception and remain Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
And as already mentioned, the Tomos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of
13 November 1924 bestowing autocephaly to the Church of Poland,
abolished this act of 1686, precisely because this annexation contradicted
the canonical rules and the Moscow Patriarchate did not fulfill the
requirements stipulated in the Act of 1686.

This position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with respect to Ukraine


remains unchanged until today. In a letter to Patriarch Alexis II of
Moscow on 10 January 1991, Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios wrote:
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate recognizes only one canonical Orthodox
Church established by the Patriarchal and Holy Synod in the borders of
1593 of your Holy Church.”

As is well known, only the northeast eparchies of the Moscow tsardom


(Muscovy) belonged to the “established by the Patriarchal and Holy
Synod in borders of the 1593”, while the dioceses of the Metropolis of
Kiev (Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland) belonged, with the rights
of an extended autonomy, to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. That is, in essence, in the letter of Ecumenical Patriarch

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Dimitrios, it was said that the borders of 1593 left the Metropolis of Kiev
in the canonical boundaries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

This same position was also expressed by the Ecumenical Patriarch


Bartholomew at the recent Synaxis of the Hierarchy of the Ecumenical
Throne in Constantinople on 1-3 September 2018. There is nothing new
said here. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, as it stood in principle in the
position that Ukraine historically and canonically was and is its
canonical territory, continues to consistently stand on this. Therefore, the
indignation of the representatives of the daughter Russian Church
regarding the position of the Mother Church, the Ecumenical
Patriarchate, is in vain on this point. And we hope that after a more in-
depth study of this issue, such unjust indignation will go away.

- Vladyka, with your help, we have made a useful excursion to the


forgotten historical past. But in the end, how can the Ecumenical
Patriarchate solve such a complicated and confused Ukrainian church
problem in the current circumstances?

Archbishop Job: Only through prayer, a dialogue of love, observance of


the canons and the restoration of historical justice. It is necessary to
explore and rethink the past, to get rid of artificial myths and distort the
history, to correct the mistakes of the past, the violations of the canons,
and turn to face the truth. For, as it is written in the Scriptures, only “the
work of the truth will be peace” (Is. 32:17).

In my personal conviction, in the current situation in Ukraine, only the


provision of canonical autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine
can overcome the problems and divisions in it, reconcile, unite and
withdraw the terrible crisis which has appeared in it over the last 30
years. And this would be a restoration of historical justice.

There are still a lot of work ahead. We are still at the beginning of this
great historical process, in the path of which there are still many
obstacles. Dialogue is just beginning. Nothing rushed works.

And there is a great responsibility and obligation on the part of the


Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Once again, the
Ecumenical Patriarchate is obligated to take all possible measures from
it in accordance with its canonical prerogatives in order to ensure

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ecclesiastical unity and prevent the further remaining of millions of
Orthodox Ukrainians outside the canonical Church. The role of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate is to serve the unity of the entire Orthodox
Church, and not just some of its parts. And since the Orthodox Church
in Ukraine is now divided into several parts, the obligation of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate, as Mother Church, through the launch of
dialogue, is to find the optimal means of canonical economy and restore
unity.

It is for this purpose that the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
has sent its envoys (exarchs) to Ukraine, so that they, through frank
dialogue with all parties to the conflict, can help them to understand and
reach an agreement. It is impossible to divide the Body of Christ. It
belongs to Christ, not to Moscow, Kiev or anyone else. There can be no
Church of the “Russian world” or some other. The Ecumenical Church
as the mystical Body of Christ has the right to belong to all who
sincerely seek to be with Christ, regardless of national or political beliefs
and preferences. It’s time to stop all those imperial political speculations
and ambitions. The reality is that there are millions of Orthodox
believers in Ukraine who will never go under Moscow. This is clear to
everyone. And because of that, prevent them to unite with Christ, and to
cut them and deprive them of salvation is not Christian, non-canonical.
We must look for other acceptable ways to solve this problem, using
ecclesial canons, economy and love.

It is a pity that the representatives of the UOC (Moscow Patriarchate) are


still abandoning the dialogue with representatives of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate and with other parts of the Ukrainian Churches.
Declarations to refuse such fraternal encounters and dialogue, blackmail
with the eucharistic unity and the prohibition of concelebration with the
hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate can only drive them into a
deadlock and further aggravate their canonical position.

I hope that this is only temporarily and that our brothers from the UOC
of the Moscow Patriarchate will understand the mistake of this path and
open their hearts to dialogue and fraternal unity in Christ. Similarly, the
representatives of the other parts of the Ukrainian Churches, who for the
various reasons are not in unity with the Universal Orthodoxy. After all,
unity in Christ must be our most important goal. Christ Himself
proclaimed: “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I

21
in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that
You sent Me” (John 17:21). And “by this all will know that you are My
disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

As His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said on this


matter: “The Ecumenical Patriarchate is obliged to remind everyone of
the cohesiveness and the universal nature of the Church, promoting the
spirit of reconciliation, which overcomes conflicts and serves the unity
of Orthodoxy.” I believe that dialogue is the only true way. After all, as
the Holy Apostle Paul commanded, “there must also be factions among
you, that those who are genuine may be recognized among you.” (1 Cor
11:19). And as Blessed Augustine wrote: “in essentials, unity; in doubtful
matters, liberty; in all things, charity”.

Ιnterview recorded by Ihor Myrevsky

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