Less than a week after Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I signed a tomos of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, formally recognizing the Church’s independence, the Greek orthodox Church has launched the procedure needed for the recognition of the Church of Ukraine.
The tomos was signed on January 5 at St. George’s Cathedral in Istanbul, after Bartholomew I concelebrated a Divine Liturgy with Epiphanius I, Metropolitan of Kyiv and primate of the newly-created Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The decision was approved at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church, Ortodoxia Info reports.
The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church at the meeting discussed the letter of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in connection with the election of the first head of the new autocephalous church of Ukraine, as well as the corresponding letter of Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The priests decided to transfer the case to the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church to recognize the new autocephalous church of Ukraine by the Church of Greece.
As Ukrinform reported, the Ecumenical Patriarchate proclaimed the autocephalous church established in Ukraine as its spiritual daughter with a department in Kyiv.
The tomos was signed on January 5 at St. George’s Cathedral in Istanbul, after Bartholomew I concelebrated a Divine Liturgy with Epiphanius I, Metropolitan of Kyiv and primate of the newly-created Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Among those present at the signing were Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and several other Ukrainian government officials.
The religious and political representation of Ukraine was also present at the celebration of Epiphany on Jan 6.
The tomos, or decree, has been delivered to Kyiv, where Epiphanius put it on public display following a Divine Liturgy celebrated Jan. 7 at St. Sophia’s Cathedral.
Bartholomew’s formal conferral of autocephaly is the culmination of a process that began amid the collapse of the Soviet Union, and gained momentum after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and Russian backing of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The Ecumenical Patriarch’s intention to create a single, autocephalous Church in Ukraine is motivated by a desire to unify the country’s 30 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, who were until recently split among three Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), which is linked to the Russian Orthodox Church, and two Churches which had claimed autocephaly, but were not recognized by other Orthodox Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
Autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine has been a fiercely contested subject between the Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople, with the Russian Orthodox Church seeing the move as an infringement of its jurisdiction and authority. (several sources)