Ukrainian leaders celebrate church's independence


RISU, 15 January 2019


During a working trip to Volyn oblast, President Petro Poroshenko took part in the cathedral church of the Holy Trinity in Lutsk in a thanksgiving prayer service for receipt of the tomos of autocephaly and the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.


As the website of the president reports, before the festive liturgy, which was conducted by His Holiness Filaret, there was a ceremonial introduction of the tomos concerning autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to the cathedral.


The president congratulated all believers of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on the holidays and on the receipt of the tomos concerning autocephaly. "For 333 years the Ukrainian church was under the yoke of Moscow. And by God's will and blessing, now this Muscovite yoke has been removed from the Ukrainian people, Orthodox believers, and the church. And this historic document testifies concerning this," the head of state emphasized, adding that today believers have the possibility of seeing the tomos in Volyn. "Now there are in the world fifteen stars as the fifteen local churches. And among these stars is the very bright star of our church. Finally," Petro Poroshenko noted.


The head of state thanked His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the primates and bishops of the Ukrainian churches, and all believers who prayed and believed in Ukraine.


"Now somebody frowns who is very displeased that we have a tomos. Somebody does not like our grateful prayers when we thank God for this. Somebody searches in the tomos for the absence of autocephaly. You will not find it! And do not listen to your instructions from Moscow; they will lead to no good. And they search that the metropolitanate is not independence. It is not true. My advice is come to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, repent, come to confession, take communion. It will definitely release you and it will be easier for you," the president emphasized.


"If there is something that is not right for you when you go to a church where the divine service begins with a prayer for Kirill and that is difficult for you, then do not go there. If they pray it that church for the Russian government and troops who are killing Ukrainians, then make a decision for yourself," the head of state added. At the same time he stressed that there must be separation of church and state in Ukraine, especially from a foreign state, "when the church receives instructions from beyond the borders and creates a fifth column."


The president stressed that the church is the spiritual foundation of the independence of the Ukrainian state. He said that in Volyn eight parishes of the Moscow patriarchate have already announced their decision about transfer to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. "After the tomos, the process of creation of the church has only begun. It is just possibility. And there is still much work ahead, as His Holiness said, in order that we in Ukraine will have a united Orthodox church. And in order that when Ukrainians go into a church of God they will not ask which patriarchate it is and in order that nobody has the right by pointing a finger to close the doors of the church to a Ukrainian who is coming to God. And it is this that is our chief victory. And it is for this reason that Moscow is so upset, because our nation is being revived with you," Petro Poroshenko emphasized.


In his turn, His Holiness Filaret thanked Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the decision about the tomos concerning autocephaly and also for the efforts of the president of Ukraine on this path. "There were many moments when we seemed to go into a dead end, but thanks to the wisdom and steadfastness of the president, we got out of the crisis," he said.


"We must be united. Ukrainians have no other path. Today a war is going on in the east and therefore those of our brethren who do not want to join us now are relying on Moscow's strength, but Moscow will lose its strength and there will be our Ukrainian victory along with the whole world. But the main thing is that God is with us," Filaret emphasized. (tr. by PDS, posted 16 January 2019)

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