Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has actually encouraged the persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church by agreeing to create a new church there, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting of the Moscow Diocesan Assembly on Friday, TASS reported.
"Constantinople’s Synod and its patriarch have actually sided with the persecutors. I say this with great pain. The issue at hand is the ecclesiastical authorities of the Local Church, which was our Mother Church. Those are the people whom I met many times, prayed with them, and sought common understanding, all that serves unity," he said.
The primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted that Ukrainian authorities had tried to distance themselves from their citizens amid growing pressure on clerics and congregants of the canonical church. "As pressure was turned up on our brothers, bishops, clerics, monks and the laypeople of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who were reluctant to take part in non-canonical endeavors being intensely pushed by politicians and schismatics, the country’s top officials began openly saying much more often that the canonical church believers were alien to them and that there was no place for them in their own country. These are millions of Ukrainian citizens," he explained.
Church crisis in Ukraine
Kiev has sought to create a Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine independent of the Moscow Patriarchate since 1991. In April 2018, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko wrote a personal letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople asking for autocephaly for the Ukrainian church.
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided at its meeting held on October 9-11 to proceed with granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. It revoked the 1686 decision on transferring the Kiev Metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and announced plans to bring it back under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
On December 15, Kiev hosted the so-called ‘unification’ council held under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and brokered by the Ukrainian authorities. After the council, Poroshenko, the president of a secular state who had attended the schismatic gathering, declared the establishment of the new church. The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church refused to take part in the event, stressing that both the ‘unification council’ and the newly-founded church were illegitimate.