Kiev, August 30, 2021
The “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” should be allowed to expand internationally in order to fulfill the political role of opposing Russia, the head of an international Ukrainian NGO told Patriarch Bartholomew during his recent trip to Ukraine.
The “tomos of autocephaly” granted to the schismatic OCU in January 2019 by the Patriarchate of Constantinople forbids it from having any parishes outside of Ukraine. However, this needs to change in order to combat the “Russian world” and the “arm of the Kremlin” in the diaspora, Pavel Grod, President of the Ukrainian World Congress told the Patriarch.
Grod spoke about his conversation with Pat. Bartholomew in a recent interview with Radio Liberty.
“When someone comes, when they emigrate from Ukraine, they seek out a church—this is one of the main things,” Grod said. “If there is no Ukrainian Orthodox church to go to, then they immediately go to the Russian Orthodox Church.”
“And we all know that the ROC is the ‘arm of the Kremlin,’ even in the diaspora. Therefore, it’s important for us to be able to create or open Ukrainian Orthodox churches in the diaspora. I spoke about this with the Ecumenical Patriarch,” the NGO head recalled.
And, according to Grod, the Patriarch was very open to the possibility of changing the tomos to allow the OCU to have parishes abroad. “Then we will try to work with him. Because we represent the laity, we represent civil society. And we can sometimes talk about things that our clergy cannot talk about, but we can speak on behalf of the laity.”
The OCU is widely recognized throughout the Orthodox world as anti-Russian political project. Its head, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, and its creator, ex-President Petro Poroshenko, have openly spoken about the political role in the life of the OCU.