Constantinople.- (GreekNewsOnline, combined news agencies)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have signed an agreement of cooperation and coordination between Kiev and the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate. The pact was signed after a meeting between Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and Poroshenko in Istanbul on Saturday. It is designed to accelerate the granting of autocephaly, or self rule, to the Church of Ukraine.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said he was certain that such actions would help to overcome the schism in Ukraine, which had existed for 30 years.
“I am sure the autocephaly decision will lead to unity and unification of all Orthodox believers in Ukraine,” Bartholomew was quoted as saying.
He said that as a result of the meeting, the agreement on cooperation between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ukraine had been signed.
“Today is a historic day. We signed an agreement on cooperation between Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” Poroshenko said after the ceremony. Ukrainians prayed to the Lord asking to send them a united Orthodox autocephalous church.”
According to the Ukrainian president, all conditions have been created for preparations for the Ecumenical Council so that the Tomos [of Autocephaly] could be granted in accordance with autocephalous church canons.
Last month, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate chaired by Bartholomew endorsed Ukraine’s request for an autocephalous church. The move has angered the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church, which compared it to the Great Schism of 1054 that split western and eastern Christianity.
Russian news agency “Tass” reports that Synod’s decision on October 11 revoked the 1686 decision on transferring the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and announced plans to bring it back under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It also reinstated the heads of two non-canonical churches in Ukraine, Filaret of the Kiev Patriarchate and Makariy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, to their hierarchical and priestly ranks.
On October 15, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said in response to that move that full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was no longer possible.
Chairman of the Synodal Information and Education Department of the UOC-MP, Archbishop Clement (Supper), in an interview with RIA Novosti, commented on the signing by the Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew of an agreement on cooperation and collaboration between Ukraine and the Constantinople Patriarchate.
“Despite the various statements, they do not trust each other, so they come up with various signatures in order to get what they want. This document has no meaning in terms of church canons and in terms of secular law, ”he explained.
The ROC believes that this document does not mean the creation of an autocephalous church in Ukraine.