Ukraine wants its own Orthodox Church

The president, the parliament and two of Ukraine's Orthodox churches have asked the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople to approve autocephaly. This would be tantamount to his giving permission for the establishment of a Ukrainian national Church that is independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. The initiative has triggered a fierce debate in Ukrainian and Russian media.

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Den (UA) /

A further dent in Moscow's influence

In Den Valentyn Torba hopes the initiative will be successful:

“Of course lots of people are interpreting the president's approach as an election manoeuvre. Some politicians even joked about the possibility of 'pardoning the sins' of Poroshenko if the Ukranian Church really were to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate. Nevertheless we hope that the appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to approve the independence or autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine would put a further dent in Moscow's influence in our territory. However, this is indeed a serious problem for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate because it points to a division among worshippers.”

NV (UA) /

Standard opportunism

Ex-diplomat Bohdan Jaremenko, on the other hand, accuses the proponents of a Ukrainian national Church of unprincipled opportunism:

“In modern Western journalism, opportunism is not associated in any way with the Leninists, the Bolsheviks and that whole plague. Instead this is the term they use to refer to the attempts of politicians who in lieu of any strategic plan simply seek to exploit to the max any opportunity that presents itself - regardless of what they really want. Putin is frequently described as an opportunist in this context. I believe that Petro Poroshenko's most recent adventure involving the autocephaly of the church is standard opportunism.”

Iswestija (RU) /

Schism will only deepen the rifts

Izvestiya observes the Ukrainian initiative with concern:

“Firstly it is deepening the rift within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and putting a strain on interconfessional relations in the country. Since 2014 over 50 Ukrainian Orthodox churches in the Moscow Patriarchate have been occupied and forcibly handed over to those pursuing the schism. Dozens of priests have been persecuted and subjected to violence, and many of them forced to leave Ukraine. Secondly the Kiev state leaders - who are pursuing the strategy of separating Ukraine from Russia - will celebrate such an event as a tactical victory in the struggle against the unity of Russian Orthodox civilization. An autocephaly approved by the Patriarch of Constantinople would result in another dividing line between Ukraine and Russia and the peoples of both countries.”