Washington, D.C., October 22, 2018
The head of the U.S. Department of State, Mike Pompeo, put out a statement on Friday expressing the U.S.’s support for the creation of an autocephalous Church in Ukraine.
“Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, the head of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) and the leader of the autocephaly movement from the ecclesiastical side has previously thanked the U.S. for backing his movement, as the KP’s website reports, saying, “We thank the U.S. for supporting Patriarch Bartholomew’s intention to provide us with a tomos of autocephaly… We hope that the U.S. will help us bring our Church matter to an end.”
Pompeo’s statement, posted on the Department’s website reads:
The United States reiterates its strong support for religious freedom and the freedom of members of religious groups, including Ukraine’s Orthodox community, to govern their religion according to their beliefs, free of outside interference.
We support Ukrainians’ ability to worship as they choose and hope this will be respected by all. Tolerance, restraint, and understanding are key to ensuring that people with different religious affiliations can live and prosper together in peace. We urge Church and government officials to actively promote these values in connection with the move towards the establishment of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The faithful of the canonical Church in Ukraine often suffer persecution, not being able to “worship as they choose”—they and their clergy are physically beaten or killed, and their churches are seized and destroyed by the schismatics and radicals that enjoy the backing of the Ukrainian government.
U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D. Brownback pledged the same support to Ukrainian President Poroshenko during a meeting in Kiev in September.
Denisenko visited America in September, where he met with former Vice President Joe Biden, during which Biden, a Roman Catholic, spoke of the importance of a united autocephalous Ukrainian Church for the confirmation of Ukrainian statehood and expressed gratitude to Philaret for his work “in spreading spirituality in Ukrainian society, helping the Ukrainian army, fighting against corruption, and so on.”
The KP head also called on the U.S. to protect the Ecumenical Patriarch (EP) against “attacks” from the Russian Orthodox Church for its intrusion into the territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Clarifying what kind of “attacks” he had in mind, Denisenko stated (before Eucharistic communion was severed by the EP’s actions): “Now it has already begun: If the Patriarch gives a tomos, they will cease commemorations. And then, if the tomos is handed over, then the end of Eucharistic communion will follow. Therefore, the Ecumenical Patriarch should feel protected.”
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