Ukrainian president reflects on upcoming world Orthodox gathering


RISU, 29 January 2016


On 29 January Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued an appeal to the bishops' council of the UPTsMP and its primate, Metropolitan Onufrey. In it the head of state greeted the supreme assembly and emphasized that the war in the Donbass was not Ukraine's choice but bloodshed was forced on us by Russia. Poroshenko also reminded the bishops that in 1992 they unanimously supported the yearnings of the flock for full canonical autocephaly.


"For two years in a row now the Ukrainian people have resisted Russian aggression, as the consequence of which Crimea and separate district of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces are temporarily occupied, thousands of persons have perished, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to escape from violence and hunger into other regions of Ukraine.


"The war is not our choice. We want to end the bloodshed that was forced onto us. Ukraine seeks a path to peace and dignified life of the people and it is seeking to remove violations of international law which threaten the entire European continent with war and disaster," the document says.


The president expressed the hope that the UPTsMP bishops will respond to the aspirations of the people: to implement processes of inter-church dialogue and consolidation of Ukrainian Orthodoxy by strengthening state-church partnership in the business of helping troops, rehabilitating those who return from the front, and giving social protection to victims of aggression.


"The patriotism of the Orthodox Christian should be active," the head of state noted.


Petro Poroshenko also recalled that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the moment of its creation in the legal field of independent Ukraine has declared its desire for dialogue, church unity, and canonical status.


"Thus, on 27 May 1992 participants in the Kharkov bishops' council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church wrote in their appeal to Ukrainian President L.M. Kravchuk: 'We not only unanimously approve and support the aspirations of the Ukrainian Orthodox flock for full independence, that is, canonical autocephaly, but we are taking all measures so that this vital question of our church will be resolved in a legal way.' Such ideas were also in other appeals, where the aspiration was confirmed that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church 'occupy in the near future its own legal place among the most ancient autocephalous Orthodox local churches of the world.'


"I take this opportunity to express the hope that the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will represent Ukraine worthily at the Pan-Orthodox Council that will convene in 2016. I am sure that the work of this authoritative Orthodox forum not only will aid the consolidation and strengthening of the positions of world Orthodoxy but will also facilitate the processes of the unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy and Ukrainian society," the president of Ukraine emphasized. (tr. by PDS, posted 29 Jdanuary 2016)

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