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BRAMA, November 1, 2002, 1:00am ET

Press Release
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

His Beatitude
Archbishop of Toronto
Metropolitan of North & South America
Namisnyk of the Patriarchal Throne of Kyiv

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 UAOC Sobornopravna.

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 Kyiv.

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.

The 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 flourish.

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 Metropolitan Stephan

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 Ukraine itself.

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 globe.

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 twenty-first century.

To Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Main Page

To UAOC Ukrainian Page.

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