"The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has a canonical connection with the Ecumenical Orthodoxy, did not ask Patriarch Bartholomew to grant the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and did not authorize either the president or the members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to do so. Therefore, the aforementioned initiatives are official misconduct and interference in church affairs," the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said in a statement, Censor.NET reports.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate recalled that article 35 of the Constitution provides for the separation of church and state, so the initiative of the authorities is interference in church affairs.
The statement says that the authorities are asking to grant the Tomos of Autocephaly to a unified church entity which does not even exist yet. Therefore, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate believes that it is necessary to heal the rift, restore the church unity first, and then tackle the issue of changing the canonical status of the single Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
On April 17, Poroshenko said Ukraine was closer than ever before to creating an autocephalous united local church.
Pursuant to the instruction of President Petro Poroshenko, on April 20, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Rostyslav Pavlenko visited Istanbul and handed over to His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the Appeal of the President of Ukraine on granting the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
He also handed over the Verkhovna Rada’s resolution on the support for the President’s Appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew also received the appeals of the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches on granting the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.