Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The question of granting Tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church concerns not so much the church as it does the statehood, independence, and national security of Ukraine. This was stated by the President Petro Poroshenko in an address on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the declaration of the independence of Ukraine.
“The Association Agreement and the visa-free regime with the European Union, the creation of a combat capable army and the decision to refuse from Russian gas, strengthening the position of the Ukrainian language and return to our own history, consolidating the course on the EU and NATO in the Constitution of Ukraine – all this is part of our state strategy. It is accurately described by two phrases of Ukrainian writer of the last century Mykola Khvylovy: ‘Away from Moscow!’ – ‘Europe now!'” said Poroshenko.
He emphasised that this also concerns questions of autocephaly of the Ukrainian orthodox church and receiving Tomos.
“I want to explain that this is rather an issue of our statehood, our independence, our national security than a church issue. In recent days an eloquent photo has been floating around on social networks: a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church consecrates a missile system in occupied Crimea. Patriarch Kirill at each liturgy prays for Russian troops – those who kill Ukrainians. The ROC is an integral part of the political system of the Russian Federation. The Kremlin doesn’t hide that it considers it to be one of the main tools for influencing Ukraine,” stressed the head of state.
According to him, Russia influenced events in Ukraine through the church.
“The situation in Ukrainian Orthodoxy is being discussed by the security council of Russia under the chairmanship of Putin. And the Ukrainian state is being demand to not interfere. But when in Moscow there is talk about Ukraine as allegedly canonical territory, how is it not an infringement on our territorial integrity? It would be a crime to turn a blind eye to this. Changing the situation isn’t the right of the Ukrainian President – it is his duty,” noted Poroshenko.
According to him, it is precisely for this reason that Ukraine started negotiations with the Ecumenical Patriarch.
“Untangling the knot was difficult, but there is a result. His all-Holiness and the Synod confirmed the illegality of the annexation of the Kiev metropolitanate by Moscow, which was carried out in the 17th century. They, as well as we, don’t recognise any claims of the ROC to Ukraine. We will have our church, independent of anybody, which will be recognised by world Orthodoxy. The decision on granting autocephaly to the orthodox church of Ukraine has been made. Tomos, the decree that confirms this, has been written. A unifying sobor has been appointed, and it will choose the head who will go to Istanbul and receive Tomos from the hands of his all-Holiness Bartholomew,’ stressed the head of state.
“The state guarantees a constitutional right of freedom of worship, including to those who will want to remain in unity with the Russian church. But the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate will no longer stick its nose in here any more, as well as branding who is canonical and who is graceless,” summarised by Petro Poroshenko.
After this statement it is clear that now any believer or clergyman of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church who criticises the forced tomosization and autocephalisation, as well as the forced “merging in ecstasy with schismatics”, and will refuse to be a part of the united local orthodox church [which will be created after Tomos is granted – ed] can be accused of undermining national security.
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