Moscow, November 6, 2019
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” on October 23 but did not hold his scheduled meeting with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, the day before.
Commenting on the situation on a recent episode of “Church and World” on Russia-24, Met. Hilarion noted that he neither initiated the meeting nor chose not to meet with Secretary Pompeo, reports Interfax-Religion.
“I think we have a lot of detractors who have good contacts with the State Department, and when this meeting was announced, they took measures for it not to happen,” Met. Hilarion said.
He also noted that he had received an invitation to meet with Secretary Pompeo from members of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America back in June. “I was not the initiator, and I didn’t expect anything special from this meeting, but I agreed,” he commented.
Dates were first suggested in August, then in September, but finally it was agreed to meet in October, when Met. Hilarion was already scheduled to be in America, for the 125th anniversary of St. Raphael of Brooklyn’s missionary work in America.
Before the meeting was publicly announced, there was no talk of canceling or postponing it, Met. Hilarion continued. However, after Secretary Pompeo’s schedule was publicly announced, Met. Hilarion received a call from the State Department saying the meeting would still take place, but would be one-on-one, although it was previously agreed that a representative of the Antiochian Church would also participate.
An hour before the meeting was to take place, Met. Hilarion was informed that he would not meet with Secretary Pompeo, but with one of his deputies.
“I declined to have this meeting,” the DECR Chairman explained.
However, as Met. Hilarion noted, Secretary Pompeo did meet with Epiphany Dumenko the next morning, where he pledged that the United States will continue to support the OCU.
“Thus,” said Met. Hilarion, “Secretary Pompeo once again confirmed the position of the United States, which by no means consists in non-interference in Church affairs, but in direct interference in these affairs, namely, that the United States does not hide its support for the project of Ukrainian autocephaly.”
According to His Eminence, in the context of this support, the fact of his failed meeting with the Secretary of State is not surprising.