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Patriarch Bartholomew gives Tomos of Autocephaly for so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine

According to th document all "significant issues" PCU should be decided through Constantinople
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Metropolitan Epiphanius AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Metropolitan Epiphanius
© AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

ISTANBUL, January 6. /TASS/ The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople presented the head of the new Ukrainian structure, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PCU), the Tomos of Autocephaly, TASS correspondent reports from the Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul, where the document presented on Sunday.

Before the ceremony of handing over the Tomos, an Epiphany Day liturgy was held at the cathedral, after which, Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Epiphanius delivered welcoming speeches. Meanwhile, the press service of the Ecumenical Patriarchate still has not provided the official text of Tomos of Autocephaly.

At the same time, in the text of the Tomos, which was signed on January 5, 2019 by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and whose translation into Ukrainian was distributed by the Ukrainian Ambassador in Turkey, it is noted that "the rights of the Ecumenical Throne to the Exarchate in Ukraine and the sacred Stavropigia remain undiminished", and all "significant issues "PCU should be decided through Constantinople. In addition, according to the text of the document, the autocephalous PCU is limited to the borders of the Ukrainian state, it cannot appoint bishops or create paraffies outside Ukraine, and it cannot independently produce the Holy oil needed for worship, unlike the Ukrainian canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).

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.