Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Orthodox Church to move forward with Ukrainian independence

Filaret and Petro Poroshenko Filaret and Petro Poroshenko
Steven Clarke | 12 October, 2018, 21:12

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (L) meets with Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, in Kiev, Ukraine October 11, 2018. "The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine will equally coexist with all other churches and religious organizations as guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of our state and worldwide law", the UOC-KP said.

Ukraine secured approval on Thursday from a synod in Istanbul, seat of the global spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, to establish what is known as an "autocephalous", or independent, church.

"Establishment of a single local Orthodox church in Ukraine does not mean that there can be no other churches on our Ukrainian territory, meaning the Russian Church", he said at a briefing in Kyiv on October 11.

Since the late 1600s, the church in Ukraine has been formally under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Ukraine's Orthodox church split from Moscow in the 1990s, with the charismatic Filaret a foremost proponent of a new independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

"The Patriarchate of Constantinople has crossed a red line", a spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, Alexander Volkov, said in televised remarks.

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The Synod also decreed to "reestablish, at this moment, the Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kyiv, one of its many Stavropegia in Ukraine that existed there always".

"We expect that taking into account all the circumstances, such as history, successful activity, a large number of episcopates, clergy and church members, monasteries and theological schools, other factors, heads of the [new] local Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be granted Patriarch status in keeping with the Patriarch and Synodal tomos", reads the report. Moscow-loyal church representatives can attend if they desire, he said.

Recognition of a Ukrainian church that is not under Moscow's jurisdiction has been an increasingly fraught issue amid the high tensions over Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russian Federation have been at loggerheads since 2014 when Kiev street protests urging Ukrainian integration with Europe prompted the ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows a monument to Grand Prince Vladimir, who brought Christianity to the precursor of the Russian state, near the Kremlin walls in central Moscow, Russia, November 4, 2016.

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