Orthodox patriarch signs decree on independent Ukraine church

Orthodox patriarch signs decree on independent Ukraine church

Orthodox patriarch signs decree on independent Ukraine church

In December, Ukrainian Orthodox leaders agreed on the creation of a new national Orthodox church and elected the 39-year-old Epifaniy to head that church.

As UNIAN reported, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on January 5, 2019, signed the tomos in his residence in Istanbul, which proclaims the autocephaly of the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on Sunday presented a decree of independence to the head of the nascent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, formally severing it from the Russian Orthodox Church.

Constantinople's recognition of an autonomous church is a boost to Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, who is facing a tough battle for re-election in March.

"The pious Ukrainian people have awaited this blessed day for seven entire centuries", Bartholomew said in his address on Saturday.

Bartholomew I, considered first among equals in Orthodox patriarchy, announced the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has become the 15th independent Orthodox church.

The solemn signing of the tomos was attended by the Ukrainian delegation consisting of President Poroshenko and his wife Maryna, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Andriy Parubiy, Third President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv, Deputy Prime Minister Hennadiy Zubko, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Youth and Sports Ihor Zhdanov, Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak and others. He argued Ukrainians "desired ecclesiastical independence" for centuries and never accepted that they were part of the Russian church.

The tomos come one day before the celebration of Orthodox Christmas.

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The decree opens the way for Ukraine's Orthodox Church to be recognised by other branches of orthodoxy and other churches.

An independent Ukrainian Orthodox church was created at a signing ceremony in Turkey on Saturday, formalising a split with the Russian church which it has been tied to since 1686.

It had been "signed in violation of the canons and therefore not possessing any canonical force", Legoida said in a statement.

The move has dealt a huge blow to Moscow's spiritual authority in the Orthodox world, prompting it to cut all ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate in protest.

He has been a long time critic of Moscow's religious influence in Ukraine.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia devolved into hostilities in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and violent conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government.

"I want to thank the generations of Ukrainians who dreamed...and finally God sent us the Orthodox Church of Ukraine", he told the congregation in the crowded church.

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