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Communique from the Presidium of the Consistory of the UOCC

Prepared by The Very Rev. Mitred Archpriest Fr. Wasyl Makarenko

Reverend Fathers, Parish Executives and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

This communique from the Presidium of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada is being sent out in order to bring clarity to questions and comments that have arisen from the faithful of our Church regarding the matter of the election of His Eminence Metropolitan Ilarion. The process that governed the election of the Metropolitan was established through discussions between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the UOCC which culminated in the Patriarchal Decree No.168 which was ratified by the 18th Sobor of the UOCC held July 4 – 8, 1990 in Winnipeg. The matter of the election of the Metropolitan and Bishops is delineated in Point No. 6 of the Patriarchal Decree which is also and often referred to as “Articles of Agreement between the UOC of Canada and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.“ In fact they are one and the same document. 

The Patriarchal Decree’s Point No.6, which refers to the election/approval of the Metropolitan and Bishops of the UOCC, has, since 1990, changed the provision of the Bylaws of the UOCC that refer to the nomination and approval/election of the Metropolitan and Bishops. The issue/s that arose at and since the conclusion of the 24th Sobor regarding the election of the Metropolitan is a matter of governance housekeeping that was not initiated nor completed since 1990. Point No.6 was not melded or incorporated into our UOCC Bylaws. Had it been, we believe that the perceived assumptions and confusion would probably not have occurred. Patriarchal Decree No.6 reads as follows: “The Primate or Acting Primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of Canada, after consultation with the Exarch or the Americas, shall submit a slate of candidates for the office of the Metropolitan and Bishops to the General Council (Sobor) of Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of Canada for approval in the first instance. The names of those candidates so approved shall be then submitted to the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval for consecration “.

This process and procedure was indeed carried out by our 24th Sobor. Since 1990 all our Bishops have been approved/elected by both our Sobor and the Holy and Sacred Synod.  Prior to our 24th Sobor we sent for approval/election the name of only one candidate for the office of Metropolitan e.g., Metropolitans John and Yurij. The Holy and Sacred Synod in following their own protocols would add the names of two other Bishops of the Ecumenical Throne so the slate would have three names. Since our Sobors approved/elected Metropolitans John and Yurij in the first instance the Holy and Sacred Synod then followed with their own approval/election. This was our traditional way of electing our Metropolitans. Our 24th Sobor, as it had the authority, sent a slate of candidates containing three names – Archbishop Job, Bishop Ilarion and Bishop Andriy whom we had approved in the first instance. Our approval in the first instance did however include an electoral process that placed Archbishop Job as the chosen candidate to be our Metropolitan as our current unedited Bylaws had envisioned and our faithful assumed that this would be the case. 

Furthermore, we had to wait until the 23rd of July for the Holy and Sacred Synod to  give their approval/election. It is here that the unexpected occurred. The Holy and Sacred Synod, due to the reposing in the Lord of the Metropolitan of Pisidia, approved Archbishop Job to replace him (as he declined the election by the UOCC to be the next Metropolitan) and approved Bishop Ilarion to be Metropolitan of the UOCC. Apart from the fact that our Sobor sent a slate of three candidate instead of one – all was done in accordance with the Patriarchal Decree that the UOCC ratified in 1990.  One concept that has to be brought to the fore, and that is, that the UOCC and the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not co-sign a contract. No co-signed document exists. What does exist is the Patriarchal Decree No.168 which is the result of many years of dialogue and discussions between the UOCC and the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding our entrance into the family of Orthodox Churches in a canonical and Eucharistic unity with each other.