Prešov, Slovakia, May 31, 2018
The participation of state officials in Church matters is unacceptable, His Beatitude Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia said during a recent meeting with two former presidents of Ukraine, reports the Diocese of Prešov of the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church.
President Leonid Kravchuk (1991-1994) and President Leonid Kuchma (1994-2005) met with His Beatitude in Prešov yesterday, where they had occasion to discuss the turbulent state of Orthodoxy in Ukraine.
The metropolitan stressed to the Ukrainian politicians that “any participation of state officials in Church matters is unacceptable in a democratic society.”
Met. Rostislav is referring, of course, to President Petro Poroshenko’s recent appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for a tomos of autocephaly for an envisioned new Ukrainian Church.
Former Ukrainian presidents have also been involved in such incursions into Church life in the past, however. Former Presidents Kravchuk and Viktor Yuschenko met with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in August 2016 to entreat him for Ukrainian autocephaly, armed with 5,000 supporting signatures.
“A schism, caused by man’s egotism, can be healed only through repentance and returning to the Church,” the primate noted. “The new autocephaly must be the result of a consensus.”
Met. Rostislav is here referring to the self-proclaimed “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, who schismed from holy Orthodoxy after being passed over for the patriarchal throne in Moscow after the death of His Holiness Patriarch Pimen in 1990. Denisenko had been the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev at that time.
At the end of the meeting, His Beatitude expressed hope that the difficult Church situation in Ukraine will be resolved in a canonical way, so as not to disturb the already tense social and political atmosphere.
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