Poroshenko: No established church in Ukraine

Hannah Rogers
October 19, 2018

At the same time Russian President Vladimir Putin gathered the Security Council in Moscow, to evaluate the announced recognition of Ukrainian autocephaly.

"As long as the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to make anti-canonical decisions, we will not be able to communicate with this Church, which is in a dissent today", he added.

On Thursday a Synod meeting in Istanbul backed Ukraine's request for "autocephalous" - or self-governing - status and reversed the excommunication of Patriarch Filaret, who hopes to lead the newly independent church based in Kiev.

Paulist Father Ron Roberson, associate director of the USA bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said the split reveals disagreements on some "pretty significant issues" among more than a dozen Orthodox churches.

"The Russian Orthodox Church doesn't recognize those decisions and won't fulfill them", he said. The patriarch - now Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople - has always been recognized as first among equals, with the authority to organize pan-Orthodox activities like global dialogue with the Catholics.

As reported, on 11 October, the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate made a decision to grant the Tomos of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. And it is now backing the creation of a new unified Orthodox Church based in Kiev.

Hilarion said the decision by Constantinople to pronounce the entirety of Ukrainian churches as independent from Moscow "goes against historical truth" as the Kievan Metropolis of the 17th century corresponded to a different geographical area.

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The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest and the most influential of all modern Orthodox Churches as the number of its followers amounts to between 90 and 120 million. Specifically, it promised to "defend the interests of the Orthodox in Ukraine" (Qha.com.ua, October 12), after which it expanded its criticism of the United States for this intra-Church development (Credo.press, October 12).

One of the most sensitive issues is to know what Church will be attached to the lauras, the great orthodox monasteries of which the most symbolic is the lavra of Kiev-Pechersk lavra in the capital and Destinations (west), now both attached to the patriarchate of Moscow.

Tens of thousands of far-right activists marched through the centre of Kiev, waving red and black flags, a symbol of the nationalist movement, and blue and yellow Ukrainian flags.

Ukrainian calls for church independence have grown since the 2013-2014 Maidan uprising in Kyiv and Moscow's 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. "It's an issue of Ukrainian statehood".

The various Orthodox churches are already divided on the issue.

A handout picture distributed by the Moscow Patriarchate press service shows a meeting of the Holy Synod of Russian Orthodox Church in Minsk on October 15, 2018.

Patriarch Bartholomew's plan to create a single, self-governing Church in the Ukraine, led by its own patriarch, is motivated by a desire to unify the country's 30 million Orthodox Christians. "If the Russians are missing, that is something like half of the faithful in the Orthodox world, which is very significant".

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