Ukraine "OCU" schism


Could someone with understanding of the matter share a simple explanation of the recent Ukraine schism?

I have some understanding of this topic as a result of various readings, but the materials tend to be very zealous without providing a simple explanation of the event timeline, persons involved, canons breached, etc.

Eusebius Erasmus

The fundamental background is quite simple.

According to Orthodox canons, each autocephalous church, within Orthodoxy, has jurisdiction over a particular landmass. In the case of the Patriarchate of Moscow, that jurisdiction includes Ukraine. Autocephaly basically means full independence, with a head bishop who does not report to a higher bishop. For example, the following jurisdictions are autocephalous: Moscow, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Greece, Poland, Romania, etc.

If a particular group of dioceses, within an autocephalous church's jurisdiction, wishes to itself become autocephalous, then it requires firstly the permission of the Mother Church, and also the consent of all the autocephalous Orthodox churches.

Ukrainians have always had an independent spirit and thus the Patriarch of Moscow, in his wisdom, allowed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to operate autonomously -- which means the UOC-MP (Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate) is essentially independent. Although it officially reports to Moscow, it makes its own decisions for Orthodox churches within Ukraine, and Moscow rarely intervenes.

This was not enough for a few renegade Ukrainian bishops, who demanded complete autocephaly, a condition that Moscow was not willing to provide without further prayer and consultation. Again, without the Mother Church's consent, full autocephaly cannot be provided.

These renegade bishops, allegedly flush with bribes from Western governments, then went to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The EP then went over Moscow's head and, in contravention of accepted canons, accepted Ukraine's autocephaly.

And here we are now.

Those who defend Constantinople will claim that the Ecumenical Patriarch has always been a court of last appeal, and can therefore supersede the decisions of other autocephalous churches. However, the conditions for this are extremely limited, and the Ecumenical Patriarch cannot willfully ignore accepted canons, especially when it involves major decisions like this one.

Anyway, since you're a catechumen, I wouldn't worry too much about this. Orthodox jurisdictions have historically been in mini-schisms, and these usually remedy themselves (except for the one with Rome). Think of this as a fight between family members; our only job is to pray that relations will be mended, and to ask God that His will be done.
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Philaret was a Russian Church Metropolitan when he was deposed and excommunicated for a wide variety of stubborn and unrepentant character flaws, including treating others with vicious cruelty and lying to a Synod of Bishops. His personal life was also bringing scandal to the Church, and at no point in the other Bishops’ attempts to correct him did he show interest in changing any of this. So they kicked him out.

Then, Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, “reinstated” him as a “Patriarch” - after he’d already been deposed and excommunicated by Russia - to have him “lead” a fake “church” in Ukraine that served no purpose beyond harming the Russian Church’s presence there.

Essentially, an excommunicated layperson was declared a “Patriarch” - promoting him above the station he’d already been thrown out of - with no oversight and against the wishes of the Russian Synod. I left GOARCH (which is under Bartholomew) for another Archdiocese when all this started and Constantinople’s decisions since then have only solidified my belief that I did the right thing.
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Ukraine is EP canonical territory, only "rented out" for a certain amount of time. That's not the issue.
The issue is what Michael stated: that un-ordinated lay persons and excommunicated ex-hierarchs were made hierarchs with a stroke of a pen.
This is mostly the EP's fault, but Met. Onuphry is also to blame. He could be the Archibishop or Patriarch of a unified Ukranian Church right now (that was the original intend of the EP), but he prefered not to cut his ties with the MP, perpetuating the Ukranian schism.