15 October 2018, 10:58
Ukrainian authorities to respect decision by flock who want to keep unity with Russian Orthodox Church – Poroshenko
Kiev, October 15, Interfax - The Ukrainian authorities will respect the choice of those believers who want to keep the unity with the Russian Orthodox Church, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said on Sunday, adding that the church is separate from the state in the country.
"We have never had and we will never have a state church. And no one will invite anyone to the Orthodox church sanctified by the tomos by force. I am saying it again: it's an issue of free choice to every believer. I guarantee that the authorities will respect the choice of those who will stay in the church structure that will stay united with the Russian Orthodox Church. It is their choice, and we need to respect it," Poroshenko said on Monday in Kiev's Sofiyskaya Square, where a thanksgiving service hold.
The Ukrainian president also said the state will protect the rights of the clergy and flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, who will create a unified Ukrainian local church along with other Orthodox Christians.
"I also guarantee that the state will protect the rights of those priests and flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who will voluntarily decide to go from under Moscow's control to create a unified Ukrainian Orthodox local church along with other Orthodox Christians," Poroshenko said.
"The building of an independent church cannot be a reason for arguments, conflicts, or violence," Poroshenko said.
If people calling to take over a lavra, a monastery or a church by violence appear anywhere, they will be "Moscow agents," he said.
"We will not let the Kremlin fan a religious war inside of our state," the president said.
The Ukrainian president said the state has fulfilled its mission in the religious issue and it is now the turn of the church to take action.
"Generally, the state has its mission in the religious issue and it, the state, the administration, has already fulfilled this mission - we have received good news from Constantinople. The other issues are internal issues, in which the secular authorities cannot interfere and they will not do that," Poroshenko said.
The Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate on Thursday decided to continue the procedure for granting a tomos on autocephaly to the church in Ukraine. Metropolitan Macary, the head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and Filaret, the head of the self-proclaimed Kiev Patriarchate, were returned to "the canonical state." Besides, the "annexation" of the Kiev metropolitanate of the Constantinople Patriarchate by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1686 was recognized as invalid.
The Russian Orthodox Church believes that the decision made by the Constantinople patriarchate to lift the anathema from Filaret violates the foundations of the canonical system.
"The unprecedented anti-canonical action by the Constantinople patriarchate involves an attempt to destroy the very foundation of the canonical system of the Orthodox Church. It is difficult to give any other evaluation to the statement by the Constantinople Synod on the start of canonical communication with schismatics and a person who was excommunicated from the Church," Vladimir Legoyda, the head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, told Interfax-Religion.
Constantinople's appeal to its "alleged canonical prerogative" to review such situations is "nothing else than a new theory supported primarily by Constantinople itself," he said.
Legoyda said he is confident that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will give a relevant competent assessment to these actions in its meeting on October 15.