ISTANBUL, January 5. /TASS/. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has signed on Saturday Tomos of Autocephaly for the newly-established Ukrainian church, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine, TASS reports from the Church of St. George, the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Prior to the signing of the document on autocephaly, 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.
The Tomos will be officially handed over to Metropolitan Epiphany during a church prayer on Sunday, January 6, and then it will go to Kiev.
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.