ISTANBUL, August 31. /TASS/. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia arrived in Istanbul on Friday and is due to hold a meeting with Patriarch Batholomew of Constantinople, the press service of the Russian Orthodox Church head said.
"Patriarch Kirill has arrived at Istanbul’s airport. In an hour, a meeting between the two Patriarchs will begin," the statement said.
Patriarch Batholomew said in his welcoming address: "We are glad to welcome His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who arrived to discuss vital issues of mutual interest." "We believe in the power of dialogue. We, the religious leaders, should use dialogue for solving these issues."
On September 1, the Constantinople Patriarchate is due to hold a general assembly of the episcopate, Patriarch Batholomew said. "Starting from tomorrow and until Monday evening, the assembly of our church will gather where all metropolitans will be represented. Last time they gathered three years ago," he noted.
The previous meeting between Kirill and Batholomew took place in 2016 during the gathering of heads of independent Orthodox Churches ahead of the Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete, which the Russian Church did not attend.
In July 2018, the Constantinople Patriarchate's delegation paid a visit to Russia and met with Patriarch Kirill. The two sides discussed the situation in Ukraine, among other issues. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s External Church Relations Department, earlier told TASS that the delegation of the Constantinople Patriarchate was visiting the local churches after receiving a petition from Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko.
In late April, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) backed Poroshenko’s request to Patriarch Batholomew on creating an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine. It was also supported by representatives of schismatic organizations, specifically, the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which have not been recognized by any Orthodox Churches in the world. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is a self-governing church reporting to the Moscow Patriarchate, never came up with this proposal.
The Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly attempted to create a local Orthodox Church independent from the Moscow Patriarchate since 1991.