MOSCOW, January 5. /TASS/. Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee for Development of the Civil Society and the Issues of Public and Religious Associations Sergey Gavrilov considers the signing of the Tomos of Autocephaly for the newly-established Ukrainian church, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine, by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to be a blatant action under the US patronage.
"That is a blow on our hopes, the hopes of all Orthodox Christians for protecting the unity of the church from schism, from hierarchs playing at politics," he told TASS on Saturday.
The State Duma deputy expects the consequences of the split "to be longstanding for all local churches." "It is very important for all Orthodox believers of all local churches to support the Russian Orthodox Church," he emphasized.
"Hopefully, the hierarchs of churches, believers, orthodox politicians from all over the world will find responses to those blatant acts of hostility under the patronage of the US," Gavrilov said.
As reported earlier Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople signed the Tomos of Autocephaly for the newly-established Ukrainian church. Prior to the signing of the document, a prayer service was held attended by Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin, Speaker Andrei Parubiy, Metropolitan Epiphany, Constantinople clergy, as well as other Ukrainian politicians and hierarchs of the schismatic Ukrainian church organization. After the service, Patriarch Bartholomew received at his residence the Ukrainian president and Metropolitan Epiphany.
Church crisis in Ukraine
Since the February 2014 coup, Kiev has sought to create an independent church in Ukraine that would sever ties with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In April 2018, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko wrote a personal letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople asking for autocephaly for the Ukrainian church.
On December 15, Kiev hosted the so-called ‘unification’ council held under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and brokered by the Ukrainian authorities. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church refused to take part in the event, stressing that both the ‘unification council’ and Poroshenko’s newly-founded ecclesiastical establishment were illegitimate. Nevertheless, after the council, the Ukrainian president announced the establishment of this new church in the country.