Washington, D.C.; Kiev, December 21, 2018
According to a message released on the Department of State’s website on December 18, attributed to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a phone conversation recently with the primate of the newly-created Ukrainian schismatic church.
“Secretary Michael R. Pompeo spoke on the phone with newly elected head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Metropolitan Epifaniy today to underscore U.S. support for religious freedom and Ukrainian sovereignty. The Secretary encouraged respect for all Ukrainians’ ability to worship as they choose,” the message reads.
A message of congratulations to Epiphany from Palladino was also recently released on the Department of State website.
According to the site of the “Kiev Patriarchate,” Pompeo placed the call.
The Secretary of State congratulated Epiphany on the holding of Saturday’s “unification council,” the creation of the new church, and his election as primate, stating, “The emergence of a single Orthodox Church in Ukraine is a historic moment for the entire Ukrainian people and world Orthodoxy.”
In turn, Epiphany expressed his gratitude for the U.S’s role in the creation of the new nationalist church: “We are grateful to many countries that supported this desire of the Ukrainian people. Our special gratitude to the United States of America, because by protecting the freedom of religion around the world, you also supported our desire to be free and recognized by the Church in world Orthodoxy.”
Makary Maletich, the head of the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” which joined the schismatic union on Saturday, admitted on the eve of the council that the process leading to autocephaly was thanks to foreign diplomats.
Both Epiphany and Pompeo also expressed their desire to continue working together in Ukraine.
Yesterday, December 20, Epiphany also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Jovanovic to again offer thanks for the country’s help in “protecting religious freedom around the world,” as well as for supporting the right of Orthodox Ukrainians to an “independent” Church “according to their own choice,” reports Romfea.
The Ambassador also congratulated Epiphany on his election. Тhe U.S. Embassy in Kiev also previously released a message of congratulations to Epiphany on its Twitter page.
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