President Petro Poroshenko emphasized the importance of strengthening unity in our country and stressed that the creation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Ukrainian Church would contribute to that. He also noted that the Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who arrived in Kyiv, have already reported that the process of granting autocephaly to Ukraine has reached the finish line.
"They said it publicly. I do not know when exactly the Tomos will be approved and when it will be brought to Kyiv. But I am sure that the wheel of this story has been ramped up so that nobody will be able to turn it back," Petro Poroshenko said during the Address in the Verkhovna Rada "On the Internal and External Situation of Ukraine in 2018".
The President recalled that hundred years ago the issue of autocephaly was put on the agenda by the state leadership of the Ukrainian People's Republic. 27 years ago, Ukraine resumed its struggle for autocephaly, but "the last four years of quiet and painstaking and now public diplomacy have been crucial, including due to your, dear people's deputies, help".
"As the Scripture reads, we will certainly not worship other gods. And the state will not interfere in the internal affairs of the church, especially the foreign state. Why are they struggling for this? Because the empire loses one of the last levers of influence. Tomos is actually another Act of Declaration of Ukraine's Independence," the President said.
"For us, our own church is a guarantee of spiritual freedom. This is the key to social harmony," he added.
The President guarantees that the state will respect the choice of those who decide to remain in the church structure maintaining unity with the Russian Orthodox Church.
"And we will call it the same in order to facilitate understanding. But at the same time, I guarantee that the state will protect the rights of those priests and believers of the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate who will voluntarily decide to leave Moscow in order to create, together with other Orthodox, the Autocephalous Orthodox Ukrainian Church," Petro Poroshenko said.
The President stressed that the value of Tomos goes beyond Ukraine. "This is the fall of the Third Rome as the oldest conceptual request of Moscow for the world hegemony. Here, in our territories, the future of the Eastern Orthodoxy is also being solved. We and Russians understand it in absolutely different ways, and this is one of the reasons why we are not on the same road with Russians. Their church is a so-called “bond” of the authoritarian regime. And we, as the largest Orthodox country in Europe, will demonstrate how Eastern Christianity and democracy get along in one national organism,” Petro Poroshenko noted.