Kiev, September 18, 2018
“This time we arrived in Ukraine with an extraordinary mission,” Constantinople exarchs Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko yesterday during a meeting in Kiev.
“We personally represent Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and at the same time the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in order to continue working on the fait accompli that the beginning of the process of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has begun. We are on a straight line heading for the finish line,” Bp. Daniel added.
Pres. Poroshenko emphasized that their mission is extremely important for all Orthodox people in Ukraine, according to the president’s site.
According to a June poll from the Ukrainian Democratic Initiatives Foundation, only 31% actively support the creation of an autocephalous Church in Ukraine, while the remaining 69% actively oppose it, do not care, or have no definite answer. A Ukrainian Parliament-backed opinion poll from 2017 gives similar results.
“It is also extremely important that I can speak to you in Ukrainian. This is a huge pleasure,” the president emphasized.
He also expressed his gratitude to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, adding that, “We know that Ukrainians have prayed for hundreds of years to have the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The views of Ukrainians were aimed at the Mother Church, Constantinople. It is wonderful that the Lord heard our prayers.”
Poroshenko also recalled the recent celebrations of the 1,030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, where “hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took part in the Cross Procession,” as the president’s site writes.
Recall that about 250,000 faithful took part in the procession led by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine on Friday, while only about 30,000, including Pres. Poroshenko, participated in the procession of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate.”
The present two exarchs plus Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul were in Kiev during the late-July celebrations, but chose to meet with Poroshenko rather than participate in the liturgical celebrations with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and the true Orthodox Christians in Ukraine.
Speaking to his nationalistic goals, Poroshenko added, “It is extremely important that we have one more state-building foundation—the Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” offering his thanks to Bps. Daniel and Ilarion.
Abp. Daniel explained to the head of state that there is still much work to do, adding that they take issue with many media reports that their activity will lead to further schism in Ukraine: “On the contrary, [we have arrived] in order to take even more steps to bring unity for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
However, the Russian Orthodox Church has already announced that if Constantinople finally grants a tomos of autocephaly, it will cause a rupture in communion between the Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchates.
The two exarchs have been especially appointed to conduct negotiations with the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.” There is no exarch for dealing with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
However, Abp. Daniel told Poroshenko at their meeting yesterday that they are prepared to meet with representatives of various religious organizations, including the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” but Met. Onuphry had already announced that they would not meet with the exarchs as they entered Ukraine without a blessing from the canonical Church and its primate, thus violating Church canons.
Bp. Ilarion then read the address of Pat. Bartholomew to Pres. Poroshenko, which emphasized Constantinople’s status as the Mother and First Orthodox Church, assuring that the appointment of exarchs will facilitate the process of granting autocephaly.
Poroshenko again expressed his gratitude to Pat. Bartholomew, and emphasized that the Church should be separated from the state, and especially a foreign state.
Recall that it was Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Parliament that appealed to Constantinople for autocephaly, and that many both inside and outside of Ukraine have thus had to remind the president that Ukraine constitutionally provides for the separation of Church and state.
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