Constantinople, May 18, 2018
The faithful of the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine have begun adding their signature to an address to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod of Constantinople, speaking out in defense of their mother Church which is under attack in Ukraine. More than 10,000 signatures have been gathered as of May 7.
Holy sites, clergy, and the faithful of the Ukrainian Church have been physically attacked for years now, and churches are often seized throughout the country, being forced under the jurisdiction of schismatic “Orthodox” bodies, as a manifestation of Ukrainian nationalist, anti-Russian sentiments.
Most recently, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appealed to the His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to grant a tomos of autocephaly to a unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church. His appeal was delivered with the backing of the Ukrainian Parliament and the hierarchs of Ukraine’s two schismatic “Orthodox” bodies—the “Kiev Patriarchate” and the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church”—which exist as supports for Ukrainian nationalism, fueled by anti-Russian sentiments. Such a church would act as a competitor to the legitimate Ukrainian Church, recognized by all other autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches.
The threat against the canonical Church and its holy sites has increased since the president’s move. The self-proclaimed head of the “Kiev Patriarchate,” Philaret Denisenko has declared that he will be the head of the new church and will seize the Kiev Caves Lavra and the Pochaev Lavra for his jurisdiction. Ukrainian radicals have also announced that they received Poroshenko’s initiative as a call for them to seize even more canonical parishes.
The first 10,000 signatures were delivered to His All-Holiness’ secretary in Constantinople on May 7-8, asking for the protection of the faithful of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, an autonomous, self-governing part of the Moscow Patriarchate, writes Galina Semenkova, who was involved in delivering the signatures, on her personal Facebook page.
Together with the signatures, the patriarch was also given a copy of the Ukrainian constitution in English, which stipulates the separation of Church and state.
“We are ready for the prosperity of Ukraine as a state and spiritual treasure,” Semenkova writes.
Deputies from the Ukrainian parliament’s “Opposition Bloc” earlier sent their own address to Pat. Bartholomew, calling on him not to take the president’s appeal into consideration, noting that such an encroachment into ecclesiastical life violates the Constitution.
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