Clash of views on religious matters
Gabriel, Archbishop of Montreal and Canada of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, calls granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine a continuation of lawlessness initiated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, reported TASS on January 7, 2018.
Russian news agency TASS published a few comments of the Canadian Archbishop of the Russian Church describing his thoughts on far-reaching consequences of “schism” happening in Ukraine. In particular, according to him, “authorities and Ukrainian nationalists will persecute the canonical church of the Metropolitan Onuphry [Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate] which can even lead to bloodshed when they start to bereave laurels and other parishes.” Earlier, on January 3, when the Tomos had not been received yet by the Ukrainian side, Gabriel briefly touched upon the same issue in his Nativity epistle available on the Diocese’s website.
“Thus, now we are witnessing attempts of the servants of the prince of this world, who follow in Herod’s footsteps, to vanquish the Church of Christ in the ancient land of Kievan Rus.”
On January 5, 2018, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew signed the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and presented it to the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epiphany during a special ceremony in the Patriarchal Church of St. George, Istanbul, on the following day. As stated in the document, the Church of Ukraine acquired its ecclesiastical independence in a form of the Metropolis of Kyiv. Its jurisdiction extends within the Ukrainian borders, with the existing parishes abroad being subject to the Constantinople Mother Church. The Tomos is on view to the public in St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.
In his presidential address on the occasion of the Orthodox Christmas, Petro Poroshenko expressed his satisfaction with the final positive resolution of this religious matter. “We have torn up the last chains that tied us to Moscow with its fantasies of Ukraine as a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church,” stressed the Ukrainian President. In Canada, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress also warmly welcomed the long-awaited autocephaly, saying that “the Russian church’s oppressive dominance over Ukraine has once and for all been rejected by the world’s Orthodox community.” Meantime, the Patriarchal Exarchs to Ukraine, Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton and the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada and Archbishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., both appointed by the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew earlier in September, received “the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise” award from Petro Poroshenko for their input in the process of provision of independence to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.