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Ukrainian leaders bid for independent status of Ukrainian Orthodox Church

September 12, 2016

Two former presidents of Ukraine have presented the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew with a petition signed by 5,000 people, asking for recognition of the autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Leonid Kravchuk and Viktor Yushchenko met with the Ecumenical Patriarch in August 2016, but details of the meeting were not immediately available. Now BBC has reported that the Ukrainian leaders asked Patriarch Bartholomew to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as an autocephalous (self-governing) body, independent from the Patriarchate of Moscow.

The Russian Orthodox Church claims Ukraine as part of its "canonical territory," and traditionally the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was subject to Moscow's jurisdiction. After Ukraine won independence in the break-up of the Soviet empire, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolian Filaret, established an independent body: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Kiev patriarchate, of which he is now Patriarch. However, neither the Moscow patriarchate nor the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has granted recognition to this new body. The Russian Orthodox Church insists that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow patriarchate is the only legitimate representative of the Orthodox community in Ukraine.


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