WWhilst the Russian army is razing village after village to the ground in eastern Ukraine and advancing, it seems the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is about to suffer a severe defeat. Last Friday, a national council of bishops, priests, monks and lay people declared the “complete autonomy and independence” of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), which has been under the Moscow Patriarchate as an autonomous church since 1990. For this purpose, “relevant additions and changes to the statute” of the UOK have been decided.
The importance of this assembly and its resolution can already be seen from the fact that the last national council of the UOC met more than ten years ago, in July 2011. Incidentally, the current Council took place exactly thirty years to the day after the Kharkiv Synod of Bishops, which had declared the then Kiev Metropolitan Filaret deposed because he, together with the other Ukrainian bishops, had dared to ask the Moscow Patriarch for the award in November 1991 of ecclesiastical independence, “autocephaly”. Exactly three decades later, the UOK has declared its independence from Moscow.