Russia’s Orthodox Patriarch has thanked Orthodox Christians in Ukraine for “staying bravely loyal” to the Moscow Patriarchate, and has vowed never to accept an independent - autocephalous – Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“The situation in Ukraine is very difficult now, as enemies attempt to sow chaff and divide Orthodox Christians”, Kirill I said. “Yet we can see that people rooted in the Russian Orthodox tradition are not leaving, but keeping faith even in the face of physical, spiritual and moral damage.”
The Patriarch was speaking during celebrations last weekend to mark the 1,030th anniversary of the baptism in 988 of Prince Vladimir the Great of Kiev and the subsequent Christianisation of the surrounding territories. He told a TV station that the word “Russian” at that time described “all people living between the northern coast of the Black Sea and the coast of the Baltic Sea” who had embraced the Orthodox faith.
Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, and its parliament have called on Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to issue a decree incorporating the country’s various Orthodox denominations into a single Church, independent of Moscow.