U.S. State Department addresses “momentous occasion” of Ukraine receiving autocephaly from Constantinople

Washington, D.C., January 10, 2019

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo published a message on the State Department’s website today concerning the “Declaration of Ukrainian Autocephaly.”

The message reads:

The January 6th announcement of autocephaly for an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine marks a historic achievement as Ukraine seeks to chart its own future. On this momentous occasion, the United States reiterates its unwavering support for a sovereign, independent Ukraine.

The United States maintains its strong support for religious freedom, including the freedom for members of religious groups to govern their religion according to their beliefs, without external interference. We welcome remarks by Metropolitan Epiphaniy that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is open to all Orthodox believers and encourage government and Church officials to promote tolerance and respect for the freedom of members of all religious affiliations to worship as they choose.

The State Department has openly stated its support for the Ukrainian autocephaly movement several times. Pompeo also released a supporting message in October, and Robert Palladino, the Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, published a congratulatory message following December 15’s “unification council.” In late December, Pompeo personally called “Metropolitan” Epiphany to congratulate him and discuss avenues of cooperation.

On December 20, Epiphany also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Jovanovic to 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.”

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.

U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D. Brownback had pledged support to Ukrainian President Poroshenko during a meeting in Kiev in September.

Moreover, Makary Maletich, formerly the head of one of the two schismatic groups that united on December 15, revealed that the creation of the new church was, in fact, thanks to the intervention of foreign diplomats.

“I know it,” Makary said on the eve of the council. “Diplomats met with Philaret and with me. There were ambassadors from the U.S., Great Britain, and others. The meetings were held to find out whether we are ready to receive a tomos.”

Meanwhile, also just days before the “council,” Philaret Denisenko, the head of the second structure that joined the union, awarded Jack Devine, the former Acting Director and Associate Director of the CIA, for his and the American government’s support of the Ukrainian autocephaly project.

Denisenko has awarded several other U.S. politicians for their activities in regard to Ukraine as well.

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