US Congratulates Ukraine on Church Autocephaly While Georgia Remains Silent

The United States congratulated Ukraine on gaining autocephaly of the Orthodox Church.

The following statement was made by the United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo: “The United States maintains its strong support for religious freedom, including the freedom for members of religious groups to govern their religion according to their beliefs, without external interference. We welcome remarks by Metropolitan Epiphany that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is open to all Orthodox believers and encourage government and Church officials to promote tolerance and respect for the freedom of members of all religious affiliations to worship as they choose.”

In addition, he said the US reiterates its unwavering support for a sovereign, independent Ukraine.

However, Georgia still remains silent regarding the issue. Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and the Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze stated the Patriarchate of Georgia has to decide on the issue, which was discussed at the last meeting of the Holy Synod on December 27. Discussions are to continue at the next sittings of the Synod.

Ukraine’s Church gained independence from Russia when World Patriarch Bartholomew signed the Tomos on autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church on January 5.

The Ukrainian Church had been under Moscow’s jurisdiction since 1686, when, under pressure from Russia, it abandoned allegiance to Constantinople, the historical seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church now known as Istanbul.

The Tomos declares that the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, representing the Holy Synod of Ukrainian bishops, should turn to the Patriarchate of Constantinople for all decisions in the future.

By Thea Morrison

Photo source: Associated Press

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