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Top news

12 September 2018, 17:45

United States to support Ukraine’s Tomos of autocephaly once granted

( Information Department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat )

"Following the decision to grant Tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the United States will support this resolution," -- Sam Brownback at a meeting with Andriy Parubiy

On Wednesday, the 12th of September, Andriy Parubiy, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, met with the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom of the United States Department of State Samuel Dale Brownback.

Andriy Parubiy thanked the United States for its support in many areas "in a very difficult time for Ukraine when we have to defend our independence with arms in our hands". Also, Andriy Parubiy thanked for the attention to the issue of granting Ukraine’s Local Orthodox Church the said Tomos of autocephaly. The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada expressed his conviction that this is "one of the key issues of the existence of the Ukrainian State itself".

"Putin's hybrid war has many components, where the military component is important, but informational and humanitarian ones are equally significant, and he does use these areas effectively and dangerously. Unfortunately, we must admit that he has managed to use the religious question as an instrument for aggression against Ukraine," said A. Parubiy. "The mere idea of the "Russian world", with which Putin justifies his expansion, began to infiltrate through the Moscow Patriarchate’s shrines," underlined the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada.

According to him, the creation of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church is not only a religious matter but also a pressing problem of Ukraine’s national security.

"We have many churches and religious organizations. All of them are equal in rights and united in the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches, with which we cooperate well, and where all religious organizations can find understanding. We were always very proud that Ukraine was able to attain agreement and cooperation between all confessions. However, throughout the Ukrainian territories which are temporarily under the Russian occupation, there are cruel religious persecutions over Ukrainians,” said the head of the Parliament. According to him, this predominantly applies to the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate and Crimea’s Muslim Tatars. "This gives us strong reasons for anxiety, and we are confident that this should invoke warning and concern of the international community, so all the countries of the free world should condemn this situation," underscored A.Parubiy.

In his turn, the  ambassador observed that "Ukraine faces a major challenging task - the issue of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church”.

The Chairman of the Parliament noted that it is necessary not only to recognize, but also to find mechanisms for coping with these challenges. "Putin's propaganda uses lots of values of the free world for striking at the world itself, and without a doubt, Putin will use religion to exert influence on both parliamentary and presidential elections in Ukraine," said the Speaker.

He emphasized that he sees enabling Ukrainian believers who so desire to unite in the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church as an accurate response to this challenge.

"All bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate, all bishops of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the President of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine addressed the Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople with a letter of support for the idea of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Local Orthodox Church.  Recently, Patriarch Bartholomew announced that such a decision is the sovereign right of Constantinople," summed up the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada. "Putin has set all wheels in motion to prevent this, being well aware of the depth of this vital question," emphasized Andriy Parubiy.

Sam Brownback stressed that "at the stage of adopting a decision to grant the Tomos to Ukraine’s  Orthodox Church we do not interfere.  But once such a decision is arrived at, we will support it, and if we can be useful at the stage of its implementation, we will be happy to assist," underlined the U.S. Ambassador.

At the end of the meeting, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada addressed the guest: "The very fact of interest in this topic and your arrival is a very good sign. For many years I have been broaching the question of giving Tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian church at all meetings in Washington, and finally I have seen a deep understanding and interest in this problem from the United States".

The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada expressed his hope that "we will be able to have a positive decision on granting the Tomos to Ukraine’s local church by the end of this year".