DAMASCUS, January 17. /TASS/. Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East has spoken out in favor of the unity of Orthodox Christians all over the world and expressed support for the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) with regard to the church crisis in Ukraine.
At a meeting with the Russian delegation led by co-chairman of the working group on the implementation of the agreement between the United Russia party and the Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba’ath) Party and member of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Dmitry Sablin on Thursday, the patriarch voiced his concern about "what is going on in ecclesiastical matters in addition to global issues."
"As an Orthodox Church, we would very much like to preserve the unity of Orthodox Christians all over the world," he stressed. "For our part, we got in touch with Ecumenical Patriarch [Bartholomew] in Constantinople asking him to make efforts aimed at uniting the churches and overcoming the emerging disagreements," he said. "We are deeply worried about the current situation and fully support you in this issue."
Church crisis in Ukraine
Kiev has sought to create a Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine independent of the Moscow Patriarchate since 1991. Last year, this initiative was supported by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the "unification council" was held in Kiev in December. During the meeting, representative of two schismatic Ukrainian churches (the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church) announced the creation of a new church, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Tomos of Autocephaly (a church decree on establishing an independent church) was granted to its head, Metropolitan Epiphany. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church refused to take part in the event, stressing that both the "unification council" and the newly-founded church were illegitimate.