Washington, D.C., October 24, 2019
According to the public schedule of the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was to meet with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, on Tuesday and Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” yesterday.
However, it turns out that the meeting between Met. Hilarion and Pompeo did not happen, though the Secretary did meet with Dumenko. There is no information about who canceled and why, and inquiries to DECR representatives were not answered by time of publication of this article.
Epiphany Dumenko commented on the meeting on his Facebook page, noting that he “expressed gratitude for the long-term solidarity and reliable bipartisan support of the USA, which is extremely important for strengthening the independence of Ukraine.”
He also spoke of the challenges facing his OCU, especially in Crimea and Donbass. In turn, Pompeo “stressed that the United States has protected and will protect the right of everyone to freedom of religion and the opportunity to worship according to their choice,” Dumenko writes, expressing hope that the U.S. will also help in countering “Russian aggression.”
Secretary of Pompeo tweeted: “Pleasure meeting Metropolitan Epiphaniy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine today. Your defense of #religiousfreedom for all Ukrainians is commendable, and I'm glad to see you were honored with the Athenagoras Human Rights Award for it. Congratulations - well deserved!”
The Secretary earlier called the “metropolitan” just days after the “unification council” in December to ensure him of the U.S.’s support for his church. The State Department also issued a message on the “momentous occasion” of the OCU receiving a tomos of autocephaly from Constantinople in January, and Pompeo and the Department have issued several other statements of support.
According to the press service of the OCU, the meeting was also attended by U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D. Brownback, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, and “Archbishop” Evstraty Zorya, Speaker for the OCU. Epiphany Dumenko arrived in America to receive the Athenagoras Human Rights Award from the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Order of St. Andrew.
Though Met. Hilarion did not meet with Pompeo, he did meet with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., A. I. Antonov, reports the DECR press service.
In particular, Met. Hilarion told the Ambassador about his participation in the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the American mission of St. Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn.
Notably, Met. Hilarion also met with Abp. Elpidophoros of the Greek Archdiocese of America at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America in New Jersey.