Kremlin opposes possible autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Filaret and Petro Poroshenko

Patriarch Filaret explained that those Ukrainian dioceses that do not join the united Ukrainian Orthodox Church "will not have the right to be called the "Ukrainian Church".

It also made a decision to "accept and review the petitions of appeal of Filaret Denisenko, Makariy Maletych and their followers, who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy from all of the Autocephalous Churches". "And, of course, we would not want any steps taken that lead to a deep split in the Orthodox world".

Since the late 1600s, the church in Ukraine has been formally under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. "I guarantee that the Ukrainian state will respect the choice of those who decide to stay in church structures retaining unity with the Russian Orthodox Church".

"The Patriarchate of Constantinople has crossed a red line", a spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, Alexander Volkov, said in televised remarks. "And they will have the right to exist, along with equal rights with the Ukrainian church".

Ukraine now has three Orthodox communities - those that stay under Moscow's control and two schismatic churches.

Ukraine and Russian Federation have been at loggerheads since 2014 when Kiev street protests urging Ukrainian integration with Europe prompted the ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.

"This is a victory of good over evil, light over darkness", Poroshenko said in televised remarks, adding that Ukraine has been waiting for this "historic event" for more than 330 years.

"The creation of a local Ukrainian church has been one of Poroshenko's main slogans going into the 2019 presidential election", said Volodymyr Fesenko, an analyst at Ukraine's Penta think-tank.

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