Poroshenko holds forth on independence of Ukrainian church


RISU, 14 January 2019


President Petro Poroshenko congratulated the people of Vinnytsia on the creation of a united Orthodox Church of Ukraine and he thanked everybody who prayed and supported the historic process of the unification of the church and the granting of a tomos concerning autocephaly, the website of the president reports.


During a speech on the square beside the Savior Transfiguration cathedral church in Vinnytsia, the president emphasized that the work on the creation of independence is still not finished. He said this is the beginning for spiritual work and each day new parishes are joining the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.


"This is only the beginning. And for us as in the past, our unity may be even more necessary. As in the prayer: 'God, give us unity.' And the Lord gave us unity and no one can stop Ukraine and Ukrainians in our work and on our path for the development of our own state. No one can stop Ukrainians, who are moving away from the Russian empire and the Soviet Union. No one can stop Ukraine and Ukrainians, who are taking off the yoke of the Moscow church and the Moscow empire," the president emphasized.


"No one can stop Ukrainians on the path to our freedom and to the European Union," he added.


The president emphasized that the church must be protected from the influence of the state, especially from the impact of a foreign state. "And we now are defending our state and our church from the impact with love and prayer. Because we are Ukrainians and we will not ask anybody for permission as to which church we must attend," he also added.


Petro Poroshenko especially thanked Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his strength and firm position in the matter of granting the tomos concerning the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. "I again wish to thank His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his faith, for wisdom, for bravery and decisiveness, since the quantity of threats which His All-Holiness faced exceeded all reasonable limits. And look at how he demonstrated his love for us, Ukrainians, and for our Ukrainian church and for our state. Because nobody has the right to shut the doors of God's church to Ukrainians and to determine who is canonical and who is not canonical," the president said.


"And see now our church is canonical and let them now understand and show the tomos. Where is their tomos? Signed by Stalin? It all began with that. The truth is you do not hide it," the head of state said.


He noted: "The doors of every church building should be open to Ukrainians. And a Ukrainian should not ask which patriarchate the church is, because he is coming to God. And the whole church should be one."


The president also noted that enormous responsibility was laid on the shoulders of the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Epifany, and now great faith, courage, decisiveness, and love is demanded of him.


Petro Poroshenko again thanked Metropolitan of Vinnytsia and Barskoe Simeon for that "love for Ukraine, for believers, and for the church that he demonstrated." "He was not stopped by either threats, or intimidation, or temptations that were offered. Because he is with the people and this is very important. But faith in God and your support gave him strength," he said.


He also thanked His Holiness Filaret for his enormous contribution to the creation of a united church and the primate of the UAPTs, Metropolitan Makary, who also demonstrated decisiveness and courage so that the church would be created.


"There was the will of the hierarchs, the will of the primates, there was the appeal of the president, the support of the government, and the vote of each people's deputy in support of the president's appeal to the ecumenical patriarch. If there had not been one of the components, more generations and generations would have had to wait for this important document (the tomos—ed.)," the head of state said.


Petro Poroshenko especially emphasized the great significance of the creation of a united local Orthodox church not only for spiritual life but also for the state as a whole. "This is a very important spiritual component of our independence. No less important than the declaration of our state independence and the referendum on state independence, which occurred in 1990 and 1991. The formation of Ukrainian independence has now become stronger with the creation of the Ukrainian local holy Orthodox church," he emphasized.


The president added: "What if we built a house, painted the walls, and installed windows, but there was no foundation. Our united church is the spiritual foundation of the Ukrainian state."


"Therefore this is so important for me and for each Ukrainian, because it is a process of the creation of the state," Petro Poroshenko said. (tr. by PDS, posted 14 January 2019)

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