Archbishop Sylvester (Stoichev) gave an interview to the Dialogue.TUT portal, in which, in particular, he answered the question why autocephaly was not immediately declared at the Council of the UOC in Feofaniya.
“Autocephaly can and should be explained through the concept of independence. In general, these two concepts – autocephaly and independence – are almost identical. Let me explain with an example. When we say that Ukraine is an independent state, we mean that we have an independent legislative, executive and judicial power. The source of this power and its powers are in Ukraine. Accordingly, when it comes to the fact that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is independent, this means that our Church has an independent source of administrative, legislative and judicial power: its Primate is elected by its own Council, which is initiated by the Church itself. In addition, the UOC is independent in governing, adopting its own ecclesiastical legal acts (regulations, charters), electing and ordination of bishops, canonizing its saints, as well as in administering ecclesiastical courts,” The bishop noted.
“If we talk about the proclamation of autocephaly, then the process of its recognition is quite complicated. I must say right away that it should not be identified with overcoming church divisions – these are still different concepts. At the moment, there is no universal mechanism recognized by all Local Churches for creating new autocephalous Churches in the Orthodox world. This issue has repeatedly become the subject of discussions and even debates at different levels,” added the rector of the Kyiv Spiritual Academy and Seminary of the UOC.
Archbishop Sylvester noted that “an important aspect of the proclamation of autocephaly is its recognition by other Local Churches. And now let’s simulate the situation: the UOC declares itself autocephalous, what’s next? It can be said for sure that the recognition of such autocephaly would not have happened “the very next day.” Supporters of the model of the Ecumenical Church, which the Patriarchate of Constantinople is actively promoting today, would argue that only the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right and privilege to grant autocephaly. Others would insist that it is necessary to reach a consensus on this issue among all the Local Churches. But the search for such a consensus may take not even years, but decades! Not to mention the fact that such a step would not at all mean an automatic solution to all the problems that have accumulated in church life in Ukraine.”
“Thus, the difficulties that a unilateral declaration of autocephaly would give rise to are obvious, but the benefits are doubtful. I believe that our current status of an independent and independent Church is optimal,” the bishop summed up.