MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. Speaker of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Vyacheslav Volodin has said Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko is behind the church split in that country.
On Thursday, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople reported that its Holy and Sacred Synod had drafted the Ukrainian Church’s Constitutional Charter as part of preparations to grant autocephaly to it. However, the Synod failed to announce the exact date for the unification council in Ukraine.
"Yesterday’s decisions by the Patriarchate of Constantinople encourage the Ukrainian authorities’ actions, which destroy peace and harmony in Ukraine and are overtly politicized," Volodin told reporters on Friday.
"Today, it is obvious to everyone that Pyotr Poroshenko is behind the church split in Ukraine. He thus uses the church in his political intrigues, trying to retain personal power in the run-up to the election campaign, in which he has no chance whatsoever," he stressed.
Volodin warned that the Ukrainian president’s actions would "definitely take a toll in the future, since any meddling in church affairs and attempts to impose new approaches in matters of faith end in tragedy and will not bring peace to the Ukrainian people."
"The people who came to power as a result of a coup, build their policy on the destruction of those values and principles, which have united the peoples of Russia and Ukraine for centuries," he went on to say. "Considering martial law imposed by Poroshenko in ten regions of Ukraine where he lacks support, these steps fit into the logic of his election campaign, which is based on eliminating any opponents, the way it was done with imposing a ban on using the Russian language, a ban on entering the country for Russian nationals and dividing Ukrainian citizens into ‘us’ and ‘them," he concluded.
Church crisis in Ukraine
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided at its meeting held on October 9-11 to proceed with granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. It revoked the 1686 decision on transferring the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and announced plans to bring it back under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It also reinstated the heads of two non-canonical churches in Ukraine, Filaret of the Kiev Patriarchate and Makariy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, to their hierarchical and priestly ranks.
On October 15, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in response to that move that full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was no longer possible.
On November 13, the Council of Bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church held its meeting in Kiev Pechersk Lavra (the Kiev Monastery of the Caves). The Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced after the meeting it did not recognize Constantinople’s decisions on Ukraine and said it was severing full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church also spoke out against joining the process of granting autocephaly to Ukraine’s church and said it opposed its name change.