Moscow, November 13, Interfax - During a meeting of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) archbishops at the Kiev Monastery of the Caves on Tuesday, Metropolitan Onufry suddenly received a call from President Pyotr Poroshenko who said he was waiting for them in another place, a UOC source told Interfax.
It was reported that the UOC episcopate was to meet the head of state at the monastery this afternoon, but the president did not arrive, though he confirmed the venue in a telephone call with Metropolitan Onufry. The archbishops were surprised by the absence of the president who himself requested the meeting.
"Meanwhile, the president called the metropolitan and asked why the archbishops were not coming to him for the meeting," the source said.
Because the agenda concerned matters of the Church, not the state, the meeting should be held on the grounds of the church, the UOC leader said. He reiterated his invitation to Poroshenko to come to the monastery, but the invitation was declined.
Poroshenko and the bishops were planning to discuss the situation around the creation of an autocephalous church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate, a process in which the canonical UOC has refused to take part from the very start, seeing it as an interference by Constantinople and the secular authorities in the country's religious life.
In its resolution, the bishops' council pointed out that hundreds of thousands of UOC congregants pleaded with Patriarch Bartholomew not to legalize the schism under the pretext of creating the autocephaly. Their plea was ignored.
"Apparently, Mr. Poroshenko was aware he'd have nothing to say to this," Vladimir Legoyda, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, told Interfax, commenting on the president's no-show.