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Kiev holds liturgy to celebrate enthronement of head of new Ukrainian church

According to the Pryamoy TV channel, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko

KIEV, February 3. /TASS/. A liturgy was held in Kiev’s Saint Sophia Cathedral on Sunday to celebrate the enthronement of the head of the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany.

According to the Pryamoy TV channel, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, government members and foreign delegations attended the event. The church community was represented by nearly 60 bishops, including hierarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate.

Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies beefed up security, installing a metallic barrier in front of the cathedral. Many journalists were not allowed to enter the building. However, the religious event did not generate interest among ordinary Ukrainians and the square in front of the cathedral was almost empty.

The symbolic enthronement of Metropolitan Epiphany was held on his 40th birthday. On Monday, the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church is expected to convene the first meeting to discuss the new church’s structure.

The so-called honorary patriarch of the Ukrainian Church Filaret, anathemized by the Russian Church, did not attend the ceremony over feeling sick, Archbishop Evstratiy told the TV channel.

Church standoff in Ukraine

Ukraine’s current leadership has sought to create a local Orthodox church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate in the country since it came to power after the 2014 coup. Last April, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko sent a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople requesting autocephaly for the Ukrainian church. The Poroshenko regime cobbled together a "unification council" that was held in Kiev on December 15, which announced the creation of a new church, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Tomos of Autocephaly (a clerical decree on establishing an independent church) was handed over to its head, Metropolitan Epiphany, on January 6.

Both the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church consider the newly-established ecclesiastical institution to be schismatic. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church earlier said full communion with Constantinople was no longer possible.