25 June 2008, 11:07
Moscow, June 25, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia zoomed in the burning issue of the participation of government officials in Ukraine in the settlement of church problems in the country.
"Understandably, when there is a confrontation in society on religious grounds, a state cannot remain indifferent since it threatens its stability," he said in his report to the 2008 Bishops' Council.
Alexy II informed the Council that the Ukrainian president, prime minister and other officials expressed concern for the situation in the Ukrainian Orthodox in their talks with him.
"Sharing their concern, I stated firmly on my part that it was inadmissible for politicians to interfere in church affairs. Indeed, the schism in Ukrainian Orthodoxy has arisen precisely because of the invasion of political elements into church life," the Patriarch said.
He expressed the conviction that the Ukrainian governmental bodies could make their own contribution to the settlement of crisis situations by fulfilling their direct task to ensure law and order, especially by implementing court rulings concerning the recovery of churches taken away from her to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
"The Church lives according to her own rules and sacred canons, and it is only through their unfailing observance that all the church disorders can be settled. Any attempt at the mechanical unification of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and schismatic groups without their repentance for the sin of schism is doomed to failure. The people of God will not support such an artificially created Church, and there will be a new spiral of conflicts between bothers of the same faith in Ukraine," he said.
Alexy II stressed that already now the pressure bought to bear on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in favor of autocephaly caused concern among many bishops, priests and lay people. It is evident in particular from the great number of appeals with thousands of signatures coming to Patriarch Alexy from Ukraine. The faithful ask the patriarch to defend the unity of the Church which they cherish and which they are ready to defend even in the most difficult of situations.
"We have to discuss ways and means of consolidating the unity and relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the Plenitude of the Moscow Patriarchate, so that we could together overcome the difficulties experienced by the people of God in Ukraine. We have to listen to the voice of the Ukrainian episcopate whose ranks have been notably replenished, as well as the voice of our fellow-bishops from other countries," the Patriarch urged.
He suggested in particular that the Council should think together about the ways of overcoming schisms and bringing back to the Father's bosom those who, regrettably, fell away from the Holy Church. He emphasized that what is important in overcoming schism is the support of the entire Orthodox world. "The primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Church with whom the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is tied through the Moscow Patriarchal See have given such support on several occasions. We highly appreciate their Orthodox solidarity," Alexy II said.
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