Constantinople patriarch to study Ukrainian autocephaly


RIA Novosti, 28 July 2016


Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew has taken up for consideration Ukraine's request to grant it an autocephalous local church and to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian church from the Moscow patriarchate, the website of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reported on Thursday.


Earlier the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine sent to Patriarch Bartholomew a request to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian church from the Moscow patriarchate. Persons close to the patriarch of Constantinople have stated that this cannot be done without the permission of the Moscow patriarchate. An influential priest of the Constantinople ecumenical patriarchate, Aleksandros Karlutsos, called the deputies' appeal "a daring step."


Poroshenko's website reports that he conducted a meeting with the representative of the ecumenical patriarchate to the World Council of Churches, Archbishop of Telmessos Job. "The president noted especially the fact that the ecumenical patriarchate had taken under consideration the appeal of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada for granting autocephaly to the Orthodox church in Ukraine and had formed a commission which has already begun the study of this question," the report says.


At the same time Poroshenko expressed the hope that the commission will not drag out its work. In his turn, the highly placed representative of the ecumenical patriarchate, Archbishop Job, informed Poroshenko of the work of the commission and the consideration of the question regarding the creation of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox church. The interlocutors also discussed the role of the state and church in the question of preventing exploitation of the religious factor for destabilization of the situation in Ukraine.


The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate declared earlier that the Verkhovna Rada had exceeded its authority in addressing the patriarch of Constantinople. As the head of the press service of the UPTsMP, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, explained, "autocephaly, or ecclesiastical independence, should be requested by the church itself, and not the state and particularly deputies." In their turn, the deputies of the Opposition Bloc, who do not constitute a parliamentary majority in the Rada, sent an "alternative" request to the ecumenical patriarch to "preserve canonical Orthodoxy in Ukraine and peace in the society."


At the present time, the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate, which is a self-administering church within the Moscow patriarchate, is active in Ukraine, as well as the church structures of the Kiev patriarchate (UPTsKP) and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAPTs), which are not recognized by world Orthodoxy. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 August 2016)

Related article:
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June 16, 2016
Moscow church alarmed by Ukraine parliament
June 8, 2016



Religiia v Ukraine, 28 July 2016


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on 28 July, during ceremonies marking the Day of the Baptism of Kievan Rus-Ukraine, declared that Ukraine greatly needs the urgent attention of the ecumenical patriarchate, the mother church, which is the only one who can help the Orthodox of Ukraine to be united and to resolve its canonical status, Religiia v Ukraine reports, with reference to UNN.


"For us, the Constantinople church was, is, and will be the mother church, to whom we, her children, have appealed and will appeal for help to, among other things, overcome division which today pains Orthodox Ukrainians," P. Poroshenko said


He noted that Prince Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus-Ukraine, laid "a sturdy foundation under the Ukrainian state by his fateful choice."


"Vladimir's labor was epochal in the life of the Ukrainian people, for which this prince is called 'the Great.' He was a great reformer, who by a strong hand led Ukraine to the West and instilled in her a western culture," Poroshenko said, quoting Metropolitan Ilarion.


"Sociological surveys show that an ever greater number of Orthodox citizens of Ukraine want to have, as is accepted in the whole Orthodox world and the majority of Orthodox countries, a single, local, autocephalous church," Poroshenko declared.


He also declared that Ukraine will not stand idly by and observe the interference of "another country" (Russia) in Ukrainian church affairs.


"It is clear that we will not stand idly by and observe the interference of another state in our church affairs, in accordance with its attempts to exploit for its own interests the feelings of a part of Ukrainian Orthodox believers. And this is one of the reasons why the Verkhovha Rada persuasively appealed to Archbishop of Constantinople—New Rome—Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to grant a Tomos concerning the autocephaly of the Orthodox church of Ukraine," P. Poroshenko noted.


He said that this year he had the opportunity to meet with the ecumenical patriarch and he is sure that "His Holiness is praying for Ukraine and is thinking about how to help us to resolve our problems."


The president appealed to Archbishop of Telmessos Job (Constantinople patriarchate), who was present during the celebrations: "Vladyka, please tell His Holiness that the Orthodox church in Ukraine very much needs the urgent attention of the ecumenical Constantinople throne. He is the only one who is able to help the Orthodox of Ukraine to be united and to resolve the canonical status of the Ukrainian church within the structure of world Orthodoxy."


The head of state called what is now happening in the east of Ukraine "an alien invasion."


"Two and a half years ago, Moscow unleashed a war against Golden-domed Kiev. And it is necessary to call things by their names. . . . Never have I accepted palliative phrases such as the abstract 'armed conflict' or 'armed confrontation.' These are terms from an alien, non-Ukrainian voice. What is happening in the east is called an 'alien invasion.' I think that it is not difficult to find a term similar to the Ukrainian phrase in the Church Slavonic language," P. Poroshenko said.


The president expressed thanks to the churches and religious organizations and all societies that "stood firmly to the defense of Ukraine as an affair truly pleasing to God."


"I am thankful to those of you who continue to support by God's Word, prayer, and humanitarian aid our armed forces and all defenders of Ukraine. I express thanks to all who are helping to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population caused by Russian aggression and pro-Moscow gangs," Poroshenko added.


At the same time he noted that despite international support for Ukraine's struggle, "We know that victory depends upon us." "And the main spiritual weapon of our victory is our unity." (tr. by PDS, posted 1 August 2016)

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