Kiev, August 24, 2018
President Petro Poroshenko announced earlier today that he intends to put an end to the “unnatural” connection between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches.
The “dependence” of the Ukrainian Church on the Moscow Patriarchate is “non-canonical” and “unnatural,” Poroshenko declared during his speech at today’s parade in honor of Ukrainian Independence Day in Kiev, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
“Let them hear us today in Constantinople, in Moscow, and in the Vatican,” the president said, “We are filled with determination to put an end the unnatural and non-canonical existence of a significant part of our Orthodox society in dependence upon the Russian Church.”
He also added, “We have the firm intention of cutting the last tie by which the empire is desperately trying to bind us to itself.
The president also claimed that the Russian Church “blesses the hybrid war” of Russia against Ukraine, reports Interfax-Religion. He has repeatedly made the claim that the quest for Ukrainian autocephaly is a matter of national identity, which he reiterated at today’s parade: “The issue of the tomos of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine goes beyond the religious framework. It’s of the same order as the strengthening of the army, the defense of our language, and the fight for membership in the European Union and NATO. This is another strategic reference point on our historical path. This is an important component of our independence.”
President Poroshenko also made sure to note that Baptism came to Kievan Rus’ from Constantinople—a fact which the Russian Church gratefully acknowledges. Meanwhile, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has recently begun arguing that not only is Constantinople the Mother Church to Kievan Rus', but it has always remained the the canonical head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“Ukrainian Christianity has a more than 1,000-year history, its own theological, liturgical, and Church tradition, and today, when we have restored and defended the independence of Ukraine, there is no reason why there shouldn’t be a Local Orthodox Church of Ukraine among and equal to the other Local Orthodox Churches,” the Ukrainian head of state declared.
Meanwhile, the president’s historically and ecclesiastically illiterate statement has been characterized by a desperate effort to stay in power. Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the Deputy Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, commented: “It is strange to hear how a presumptuous politician, who is not supported by even a tenth of the people, in a desperate attempt to hold onto elusive power, tries to come up with a new arrangement, new, unheard of ‘canons” for the Church, and to tell it what is natural for it and what is not.”
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