Ukrainian Orthodox Church gets ‘tomos of autocephaly’ at historic ceremony in Istanbul
The patriarch, considered “first among equals” in Orthodox Christianity, said Ukrainians could now enjoy “the sacred gift of emancipation, independence and self-governance, becoming free from every external reliance and intervention.”
Poroshenko thanked Bartholomew “for the courage to make this historic decision” and said that “among the 15 stars of the Orthodox churches of the world a Ukrainian star has appeared,” referring to the updated number of churches that don’t answer to an external authority.
Kiev has been pushing for a church free from Moscow’s influence, which intensified after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and amid the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Poroshenko, president since 2014, has pushed for the creation of the church as he campaigns for the March 31 elections. Though the church is not formally part of the state, it is closely tied. Recent opinion polls suggest he is in second or third place in the race.
Poroshenko met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before the ceremony.
The closed-door meeting at the Vahdettin Pavilion in the Üskudar district lasted for one hour and fifteen minutes, according to a statement issued by Turkish presidency.