President Petro Poroshenko took part in the ceremony of signing the Tomos of Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul. The solemn ceremony took place in the Patriarchal Church of St. George.
After the ceremony, the Head of State appealed to the attendees: "Your All-Holiness, Your Beatitude, Your Eminence, Ladies and Gentlemen. Dear Ukrainians who are watching us today in Ukraine and around the world, who have been waiting for this event for thousands of years. Thank God! For without God's will this event would have been impossible".
"I am grateful to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his faith. Your All-Holiness, these applause are heard all over the world," Petro Poroshenko said.
The President thanked Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his faith and love for Ukraine, for his prayer for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, for the courage that His All-Holiness has demonstrated throughout his life, but especially after the Great Monday - the first day after Easter in 2018, when the public process of granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine started.
"I want to thank the Holy Synod, the Ecumenical Patriarchate Council. I want to thank every hierarch who signed the appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch to provide autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine," the President said.
The Head of State expressed gratitude to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Chairman of the Parliament Andriy Parubiy, to every deputy who voted for the support of the President's appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch on the provision of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
"And most importantly - I want to thank millions of Ukrainians around the world who responded to the call to pray - pray for the Church to come true. Due to your prayers it became possible," Petro Poroshenko emphasized.
He also noted that he was grateful to the generations of Ukrainians who had dreamed about that for either 1030 years, or 332 years, or 100 years. "At last, God has bestowed the Orthodox Church of Ukraine upon us," Petro Poroshenko emphasized.
The President joined the words of gratitude to the patriarchal exarchs, noting that their efforts in this matter cannot be overestimated.
Upon completion of the ceremony of signing the Tomos, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew appealed to Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy: “Your Beatitude, it was Your right to request and demand Your autocephaly. It was the right and privilege of Your Mother Church of Constantinople to bestow upon You this status of autocephaly. We wholeheartedly pray that you will prove worthy of this gift and emerge as a precious fellow-traveler of the other sister Churches in Pan-Orthodox unity and cooperation, as well as in our common witness to the contemporary world, which thirsts for the inexhaustible spiritual treasures of Orthodoxy”.
“Today, by the Lord’s grace, we are realizing the restoration to communion of millions of faithful in Your land, who abruptly found themselves outside of canonicity and communion, through no fault of their own,” he noted.
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew emphasized that Constantinople “gathered and embraced them as their genuine mother—the same Church that once led them to Christian baptism—rather than as their stepmother”. He added that Constantinople had always “served the wishes and interests of its children”.
“Your Beatitude, dear brother, on this magnificent and historical day, at the Sacred Center of Orthodoxy, standing and celebrating with us are Prince Vladimir and Saint Olga, along with all the saintly descendants of the illustrious Ukrainian land, as well as all the advocates and supporters of Your self-evident rights, of the Ukrainian people, and of justice in general, but also of human rights and particularly religious freedom for all people and nations. All of these are present in spirit and prayer, sharing our joy and pleasure,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stressed.
In turn, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy thanked Patriarch Bartholomew for signing the Tomos, noting that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was waiting for its granting with impatience and excitement.
"I would also like to express our gratitude to the President of Ukraine and all those who worked with him and under his leadership to help us accomplish the dream of generations of Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchs and believers to have an Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Your name, Mr. President, will remain forever in the history of the Ukrainian people and the church next to the names of our princes Volodymyr the Great, Yaroslav the Wise, Kostiantyn Ostrozky and Hetman Ivan Mazepa," he said.