Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew has signed a tomos granting autocephaly to Ukraine's new church, according to local media reports.
Ahead of the ceremony, a joint prayer was held in St George's Cathedral in the Turkish capital of Istanbul. Epiphany, the head of the "new church," attended the ceremony, as well as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with his spouse; chairman of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy; Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv; Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak; and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.
Granting a tomos of autocephaly to the newly established Ukrainian church is a non-canonical move that will only bring trouble and division to Ukraine, Vasily Anisimov, the head of the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), told Sputnik on Saturday.
"Traditionally, troubles always happen in Ukraine on the night before Christmas. The signing [of tomos] and this move will bring nothing but challenges and conflict to Ukraine. We consider these actions as non-canonical and illegal, which is defined in the decisions of the UOC Council. This move will only bring trouble, division, and sin to Ukraine", Anisimov said.
UOC-MP Archbishop, Kliment Vecherya, told Sputnik that granting the tomos of autocephaly to the "new church" was a gross violation of all patristic and apostolic rules.
"Churches are not created by patriarchs and presidents. The church was created by God, and no one has the right to create new churches. What the Constantinople patriarch is currently doing is a gross violation of all patristic and apostolic rules that the church has been following for 2,000 years", he said.
The statements come after a 15 December council that was attended by representatives of mostly non-canonical structures, which are not recognised by the world's Orthodox churches, except for the Constantinople Patriarchate.
In September, Patriarch Bartholomew appointed Bishop Daniel of Pamphilon from the United States and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton, Canada as its exarchs to Ukraine as part of preparations for granting autocephaly to Ukraine.
This decision was met with criticism by the Russian Orthodox Church, which said that it saw division inside the Orthodox religious community.