2017-09-07 18:15:00

Russian Orthodox Church warns Ukrainian president against meddling in Church's internal affairs

Moscow, September 7, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has described Pyotr Poroshenko's remarks that Ukraine should create an autocephalous Orthodox Church with the support of the Patriarch of Constantinople, as an attempt to earn political capital.

During the annual address to parliament on Thursday, the president said that Ukraine is entitled to an autocephalous Orthodox Church, and will seek its creation. "The recognition of the Ukrainian autocephaly which we expect from the Ecumenical patriarch will by no means signify the emergence of a state church or the banning of other Christian Orthodox denominations' activities," Poroshenko said.

This is not the first time that the Ukrainian leader said his country needs an independent (autocephalous) church, the Moscow Patriarchate said. For example, last year Verkhovnaya Rada deputies wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople raising the same issue.

"And just like then, this time round interference in the Church's internal affairs is evident," Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, secretary for inter-Orthodox relation at the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.

The president's statement today was "not in any way agreed on with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is the autocephalous Church of Ukraine recognized by the whole Christian Orthodox world," the priest said.

During one of his visits to Kiev, Patriarch Kirill told the then president, Viktor Yushchenko, that the autocephalous Orthodox Church had existed in Ukraine for over a thousand years, and is now known as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the priest recalled.

"Obviously, attempts to resolve church's problems without the Church itself are doomed, as was repeatedly stated by the aforementioned Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Most likely, those politicians who are trying to earn political capital on this topic should heed the opinion of autocephalous Orthodox church leaders, and stop meddling in the internal affairs of the Church," the synodal department representative said.