Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church SOBORNOPRAVNA
His Beatitude STEPHAN Archbishop of Toronto Metropolitan of
North & South America Namisnyk of the Patriarchal Throne of
Cleveland, OH On Thursday, October 10,
2002, an historic sobor of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Bishops took place
at the Cathedral of SS. Boris & Hlib, mother church in the Diaspora of the
Bishops Reestablish Patriarchal Model of Church
At the Sobor, the Council of Hierarchs - which is the Holy Synod of
Bishops, unanimously elected to restore to the church structure, the venerable
patriarchal model upon which the UAOC was founded in 1921 and which was
resurrected in 1990, in the days following the independence of Ukraine.
Due to the conditions within the UAOC in Ukraine following upon the
death of Patriarch Dymytri (Jarema), the office of Patriarch of the UAOC was
suppressed, in favor of the pursuit of relations congruent with those taken by
the churches in the Diaspora that have become part of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate of Constantinople. For over two years now, the office of UAOC
Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus Ukraine has been vacant, pursuant upon the wishes
of some of the UAOC hierarchs in Ukraine.
At the October 10 Sobor, the
decision was reached that His Beatitude, Metropolitan and Major-Archbishop
Stephan, Primate of the UAOC Sobornopravna will fulfill the office of "Namisnyk"
or "Administrator" of the Patriarchal Throne of Kyiv. In the future, a Sobor
will officially elect a new patriarch to fill the vacant See of Kyiv.
Additionally, the UAOC Sobornopravna will advance its ecclesiastical structure
to the patriarchal model, with a full patriarchal curia and mode of operation.
The UAOC Sobornopravna has restored its presence on Ukrainian soil, with
the canonical erection of the "Archeparchy of Kyiv and All Rus' Ukraine."
Consecrated during the Sobor, was the new Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Rus'
Ukraine, His Eminence,
Metropolitan Moisei. The Metropolitan will have jurisdiction over all of
Ukrainian lands and will be joined by a local Ukrainian Council of Hierarchs,
other bishops who will be responsible for parishes throughout the various
provinces of Ukraine.
Metropolitan Moisei, is well experienced in the
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in both Ukraine and America. In 1990, he
was instrumental in the rebirth of the church after the Soviet period and worked
closely with both the late Patriarch Mystyslav and Metropolitan Ioan Bodnarchuk,
and also with other Ukrainian hierarchs. He already has charge of a number of
parishes and monasteries throughout Ukraine, and has established a seminary to
train Ukrainian born candidates. The central consistory offices of Metropolitan
Moisei and the UAOC Sobornopravna in Ukraine will be in the capitol city of
This recent expansion of the UAOC Sobornopravna holds significant
importance in the history of the church in Ukraine. Its particular emphasis is
on the trademark of the Ukrainian Orthodox synthesis - "sobornopravnist" or the
conciliar model of church government, once characteristic of all Ukrainian
Orthodox jurisdictions. The first primate of the UAOC Sobornopravna in America,
Metropolitan Hryhorij Ohijchuk, was given the commission from UAOC Metropolitan
Nikanor Abrymovych, head of the church in Ukraine, to bring the sobornopravna
and patriarchal model of the church to the Diaspora. In this way, Metropolitan
Hryhorij continually maintained his title of "Metropolitan Archbishop of the
Patriarchal Throne of Kyiv."
UAOC Sobornopravna Preserves Integrity
of the Historical Ukrainian Church
In the Diaspora, the UAOC
Sobornopravna was first established after the tragic events following the Second
World War, when many Ukrainian people were displaced throughout the free world.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Hryhorij Ohijchuk led the church until his repose in
1985. Metropolitan Hryhorij was consecrated in May of 1942, along with many
other Ukrainian bishops (including Patriarch Mystyslav), during the brief period
of freedom allowed the UAOC while Ukraine was not under Russian Soviet
domination. In the aftermath of the annihilation of the Ukrainian Church by the
communists, those bishops who could escape the concentration camps, found solace
in the Diaspora and organized their churches where freedom could be attained.
His Beatitude Metropolitan Stephan, with official approbation from the
UAOC in Ukraine, has been the leader of the free UAOC Sobornopravna in Exile
since 1996, and also the third in progression of the successors of Metropolitan
Hryhorij. He has been responsible for increasing the activity of the church to
and beyond the level of growth once realized under Metropolitan Hryhorij. The
UAOC Sobornopravna is now represented in eparchies and parishes across the globe
in many different nations, including the United States, Canada, France, Spain,
Germany, Belgium, Cuba, Africa and throughout Latin America.
Importance of the Patriarchate
The recent resurgence of the church
in Ukraine proper, represents an historic and exciting new dimension, one which
has as its aim, the restoration to full activity of the Ukrainian Autocephalous
Orthodox Church and the Patriarchal Throne of Kyiv. It was for this church and
patriarchate that the venerable founders of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodoxy
sacrificed their lives in the face of brutal persecution. Now, with the
God-given opportunity of freedom in our Motherland, a completely functioning
patriarchal Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church can once again begin to
With the restoration of the patriarchal model of the UAOC
Sobornopravna by the recent Sobor, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
is truly a worldwide church for Ukrainian Orthodox people, in which the ideals
of the pioneers of the church can be realized and expanded upon. Without the
patriarchate, the strength and witness of the church cannot reach its full
potential. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Stephan will provide the clergy and
faithful with a strong and visible role of leadership, remaining truly faithful
to the autocephalous and sobornopravnist ideals.
The Vision of
Loyalty to the established principles of
Ukrainian Orthodoxy is nothing new for Metropolitan Stephan, since he was
commissioned in 1996, by acting UAOC patriarch, Metropolitan Vasyl Bodnarchuk,
to maintain the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church firmly in North &
South America. Thanks to his vision and leadership, the church has since planted
firm roots in the western hemisphere which are now being strengthened also in
Like others before him, Metropolitan Stephan will aim to
unify the efforts of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians throughout the world and
continue a united and self-governing Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,
combining the best efforts of the faithful both in the Motherland and the
Diaspora. As with other Orthodox churches who have a strong patriarchal model,
the UAOC will now be able to serve the sincere interests of its people and
anticipate further growth, by giving its faithful a united voice across the
Commenting on this historic development in the life of the UAOC
Sobornopravna, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Stephan has said that, "the
restoration of the patriarchal model for our people will be one of the most
significant developments since the resurrection of our church in 1990. By being
truly who we are to the fullest possible extent, both in our Motherland and
wherever Ukrainian people live, we will afford all of our faithful the
opportunity to speak with a united voice and purpose. The role of the
patriarchate is exactly what has and will keep us united as one and will be the
vehicle through which our church can grow in its witness to both the Gospel of
Jesus Christ, which is the essence of our faith as Christians and in the unique
historical and religious traditions upon which the Ukrainian Church has been
built for over 1000 years."
"Without the patriarchate, the Ukrainian
Autocephalous Orthodox Church cannot live to its fullest potential. Rather than
looking to others for recognition, we will present to them, a strong and living
church, founded solidly upon love for Christ and our neighbor, and at the same
time, with the ability to be who we are as Ukrainian Christian people. The time
has come to realize what has always been the truth - that a church for Ukraine
does exist and is available to all who seek the Gospel message within our
communities, as we also share our rich traditions with other religious people
worldwide," the Metropolitan remarked.
God's Spirit continues to live
and breath within the hearts and minds of so many dedicated Ukrainian Orthodox
clergy and people. With his continued help, the inspiration and impetus that has
led to these recent historical accomplishments will work together to make the
UAOC Sobornopravna one of the leading and more relevant churches of the
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