UKRAINE Bartholomew in Kiev for Independence Day



The Patriarch of Constantinople in Ukraine on the 30th anniversary of the separation from the Soviet Union. Protests by pro-Russian faithful against the recognition of Kiev’s autocephaly in 2018. “I feel at home in this place and with this people inseparable from our canonical territory”.

Kyiv (AsiaNews) – Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew (Archontonis) has honored Ukraine with an official visit on the occasion of the August 24 national day for independence. Bartholomew recognized Ukraine’s ecclesiastical autocephaly in 2018. The Patriarch met with Metropolitan Epifanyj (Dumenko), President Volodymyr Zelenskyj and members of the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament.

Hundreds of people, faithful to the obedience of the Moscow Orthodox Church, protested against the “schismatic” patriarch and sang reparation prayers, accompanied by the pro-Russian Metropolitan of Kiev, Onufryj (Berezovskij). Other crowds, however, wanted to encourage him in the name of ecclesiastical autonomy, but Barthélémy avoided public demonstrations which could further exacerbate tensions.

The patriarch did not participate in the Ukrainian independence ceremony which was held in the afternoon at Saint Sophia Cathedral and chaired by Metropolitan Onufryj, who had made the absence of Bartholomew a prerequisite. In addition, President Zelensky, on the proposal of Bartholomew, instituted the “State Day of Ukraine”, separate from that of independence. It will be held on July 28, the day of the Baptism of the Rus’ of Kiev, thus identified as the beginning of the history of the “Ukrainian state”.

According to Andrej Melnikov, deputy editor-in-chief of Nezavisimaja Gazeta, the Ecumenical Patriarch “in a way replaces NATO, the European Union and the UN” by recognizing the dignity of the Ukrainian people, after years of conflict with Russia, who considers the land of the Dnieper to be part of its history, as Vladimir Putin himself has pointed out in some recent speeches.

Thirty years ago, the authority of the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine approved the declaration of independence of the USSR, which marked the beginning of its dissolution and the autonomous existence of a Ukrainian state, for centuries divided between Poland and Russia. The ecclesiastical diatribe erupted shortly after the events of 1991, with the first requests for autocephaly and the unilateral proclamation of the Kyiv Patriarchate by Metropolitan Filaret (Denisenko), now in his eighties but still active in the various disputes between Moscow and Kiev .

In the history of nations with an Orthodox tradition, ecclesiastical jurisdiction is a fundamental element of identity, closely linked to political events. Russia itself gave a supreme example, with the proclamation of the Patriarchate of Moscow in 1589, obtained from Constantinople not without force, to extol “the only true Orthodox kingdom”. Today Bartholomew is in Kiev, for the first time since the signing of the Tomos of autocephaly, to bring all the Churches back to the tradition of the first millennium, in which – in his own words – “Constantinople has always had a great privilege : that of sacrifice, for the good of the universal Church “.

In his greeting to the Ukrainian authorities and people, the Ecumenical Patriarch thanked “the Most Holy Trinity for allowing me to visit the hardened land of Ukraine, the baptismal font of Rus’, the glorious Kiev where the holy Prince Vladimir laid an unshakeable foundation of faith in Christ, received from the great Church of New Rome “.

Bartholomew added that he “feels at home in this place and with these people. Not because I have been there before or because my glorious predecessors have been there, but because the metropolis of Kiev, despite the contrary trumpets which resonate, was from the beginning an inseparable part of our own canonical territory, even if certain historical circumstances and human violence separated it from us, but not forever “.

The Patriarch of Constantinople then reiterated from Kiev that he was the “first seat” also for all the other Orthodox Churches of “Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Albania, Czechia and Slovakia, in a word, of all the new Churches formed from our body. “Closing any discussion on the Orthodox primacy, Barthélémy assured that” we do not remember the disappointments and the humiliations, the offenses and the sufferings, but we always advance on the path of forgiveness. , virtue and healing for all our children without exclusion. ”Politics, he said, must remain outside ecclesiastical life, which is difficult to achieve in the traditions of the Orthodox symphony between the throne and the ‘altar.


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