Istanbul, March 12, 2019
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pledged to transfer “buildings and premises and other properties” to the Stavropegion of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine in exchange for the tomos of autocephaly granted on January 6 in Istanbul.
The Holy Synod of Constantinople announced on October 11 that, in addition to creating a new schismatic church in Ukraine, it was also reestablishing its own presence in Ukraine. They appointed Archimandrite Michael (Anischenko) as head of the stavropegial institutions at their January 9-11 session.
After being illegally withheld by the presidential administration for four months, the agreement on cooperation and interaction between Ukraine and the Patriarchate of Constantinople, signed by Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul on November 3, was submitted to and published by Ukrainian News.
The newly-published document reveals that Poroshenko promised to facilitate the acquisition of the various properties deemed necessary “for the functioning of the mission” in exchange for the tomos. Poroshenko has repeatedly declared that he has not and will not interfere in Church affairs, though he repeatedly does so.
Moreover, the document specifies that “In accordance with the purpose of the agreement, Ukraine will facilitate … the acquisition…” (emphasis added), although Poroshenko’s administration previously claimed that it did not have to publish the agreement because he had signed it as a private individual rather than as the head of state, which the document shows to be false.
According to Ukrainian law, all documents officially signed by the President are to be made available to the public within 5 business days, but the administration withheld the given agreement for months.
Ukrainian News offered an explanation for the lengthy delay:
After reviewing the signed agreement on cooperation and interaction between Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the reason for the administration’s refusal to provide its text becomes clear. It is not profitable, on the eve of the presidential elections, for Poroshenko to acknowledge the fact that the price of the creation of an autocephalous Local Orthodox Church and of receiving the tomos of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) was the transfer of state property to the permanent free usage of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Recall that on October 18, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law to transfer Kiev’s historic St. Andrew’s Church to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it was then transferred by the Cabinet of Ministers on November 28. Constantinople hierarchs first served there, without the necessary blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, on December 13, just two days before the “unification council.” They angered their Ukrainian nationalist parishioners by celebrating part of the service in Church Slavonic.
St. Andrew’s had previously belonged to the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” headed by Makary Maletich, who later said he had been fooled by Poroshenko and regretted giving up the church.
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