Poroshenko promises state protection for clergy, laity of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate who join unified local church
The autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is inevitable, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said.
He promised to provide state protection and respect the right of the clergy and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to choose their affiliation.
"The creation of the Unified Local Orthodox Church should strengthen unity. The exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarch have told me without diplomatic formalities that the process of granting autocephaly is nearing the finish line. I don't know when exactly the tomos will be adopted and when it will be brought to Kyiv, but I am certain that we have wound the wheel of this story so far that no one can turn it back now," he said in his annual address to the Verkhovna Rada on Thursday.
Poroshenko said the state, "especially not a foreign one," will not intervene in internal church affairs in Ukraine.
"The empire is losing one of its last levers of influence. The tomos is essentially another declaration of Ukrainian independence. Our own church is a guarantee of spiritual freedom for us. It's a guarantee of public accord. I guarantee that the state will respect the choice of those who decide to stay in that church structure, retain unity with the Russian Orthodox Church. But I also guarantee that the state will protect the rights of the priests and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who voluntarily decide to come out from under Moscow to create a unified church together with other Orthodox Christians," Poroshenko said.