Kiev, April 20, 2018
Deputies from the Ukrainian parliament “Opposition Bloc” have sent an address to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, decrying President Petro Poroshenko’s plan to interfere in Church matters and force the creation of a single, autocephalous Church in Ukraine, reports The Union of Orthodox Journalists.
The opposition deputies have instead asked for the patriarch’s prayers and blessing.
The president has the support of the hierarchy of the nation’s two schismatic bodies which exist for the purpose of not being with the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Verkhovna Rada voted yesterday to support President Poroshenko’s initiative to formally appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch to create an autocephalous Ukrainian Church, despite the protests of the Opposition Bloc and other deputies.
In their message to the patriarch, the Opposition deputies appealed to him not to support the president’s and parliament’s encroachment into ecclesiastical affairs, expressing confidence that the creation of a single Local Church would only exacerbate the split in Ukrainian society.
“We are indignant at the attempt on the part of the current government and the president of Ukraine to once again intervene in the affairs of the Church, and to usurp the right of the Church and the Orthodox community to decide their fate,” the appeal says.
The opposition believes that Poroshenko’s initiative to create a new, united Ukrainian Church is merely a PR move for the upcoming presidential campaign:
“The latest initiative of the authorities to create a single Local Church on the eve of the presidential elections is not concern for the Church, but an attempt to solve their political problems, and political interference in the lives of millions of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine, pushing towards new social tensions.”
“We are addressing you, Your All-Holiness, with a request for prayers for a blessing for the Ukrainian people, the restoration of its spiritual and social unity, the cessation of the fratricidal conflict, and for the blessed peacekeeping mission of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the deputies write.
“We believe that your prayers and wise words will strengthen us all, preserve the canonical way, and help us avoid new divisions and misunderstandings in society,” the appeal reads.
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