Ukrainian Orthodox Church Refutes Reports Alleging Autonomous Status Claims

KIEV (Sputnik) - Reports about the decision to grant autocephaly to an Ukrainian church allegedly taken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate are false and distort the reality, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) said on Saturday.

On Friday, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the parties discussed "issues of mutual interest." Following the meeting, Ukrainian media reported that Patriarch Bartholomew had allegedly informed Patriarch Kirill of Constantinople's decision to grant Ukrainian church with autocephaly.

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"In connection with the massive spread of false information that distorts the words of the Ecumenical Patriarchate spokesman, Metropolitan Emmanuel (Adamakis) of France, following the meeting of the Constantinople and Moscow Patriarchs in Istanbul on August 31, 2018, the following should be clarified: in his statement, Metropolitan Emmanuel did not say that the Ecumenical Patriarchate had decided to grant autocephaly to the church in Ukraine," the UOC-MP said in a statement.

It noted that Metropolitan Emmanuel had said after the meeting that the Ecumenical Patriarchate had decided to consider all the ways how the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church might be proclaimed.

"This decision was made in April, and we are already implementing this decision, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate also informed Patriarch Kirill about this during his visit," the UOC-MP quoted Metropolitan Emmanuel as saying.

It stressed that this statement no way meant that granting autocephaly was an approved decision".

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Orthodox churches operating in Ukraine, aside from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) — a self-governing church within the Moscow Patriarchate — also include those that are not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, such as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church — Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is trying to achieve recognition of non-canonical institutions and to create a single local autocephalous church based on them. In April, Poroshenko said that Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was launching the procedures required to establish the Autocephalous Church in Ukraine.

In response to the appeal of the Ukrainian secular authorities, the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate said that it had decided to be in close contact with other sister Orthodox churches to obtain their information and enable coordination regarding the request.

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