On Saturday, November 3, 2018, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Excellency President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine reaffirmed their desire to enhance the cooperation between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Nation—within the framework of the process for granting Autocephaly to the unified Orthodox Church in Ukraine—during the President’s visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s headquarters at the Phanar.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew warmly received President Poroshenko, accompanied by Their Excellencies Stepan Kubiv and Gennadiy Zubko, Vice Prime Ministers of his Government; His Excellency Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Stepan Poltorak, Minister of Defense; and the Honorable Yurij Lutsenko, Prosecutor General, together with a large delegation of his colleagues and His Excellency Andriy Sybiha, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Turkey.
Immediately following their private meeting in the Patriarchal Office, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and President Poroshenko signed a Bilateral Agreement on Cooperation and Coordination before their colleagues and numerous representatives of the mass media in the Chamber of the Throne.
His All-Holiness characterized the day as historic for relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ukraine, while underscoring that the signed Agreement “will expedite the granting of the Tomos recognizing the Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.”
“This autocephaly, which for years – not to say centuries – you have so fervently and nostalgically awaited is your right, just as it was the right of all the other people of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, whose Churches received autocephaly from the Mother Church of Constantinople. It is also the exclusive prerogative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in accordance with the Holy Canons, to grant this autocephaly when it deems fit, whenever circumstances have matured.
Here at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we are convinced that our decision will lead the Ukrainian people and the Orthodox faithful there to greater unity—which they have been deprived of for about the last thirty years—and that almost all of the country’s Orthodox faithful will rally around this new Autocephalous Church of Ukraine. In this way, this Autocephalous Church will enter the family of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches and we shall all work together for the good of our faithful and the glory of the Lord’s name.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch thanked the President of Ukraine for conceding the magnificent Church of Saint Andrew in Kyiv to the Mother Church “so that the permanent presence of your Mother Church of Constantinople may be there in the Capital of Ukraine.” He also expressed his wish “that the Lord may grant [him] the opportunity to visit once more, in the near future, your beautiful and hospitable country [of Ukraine].” The Patriarch then asked the President to convey the blessing of the Mother Church and his love to the entire Ukrainian people.
Prior to this, the President of Ukraine also characterized the day as historic:
“Ukrainians wanted and prayed for us to have a unified, local, Autocephalous Church. After Pascha, on April 9th, we met with His All-Holiness in this office (i.e., the Patriarchal Office) and agreed to move forward with the granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church. Personally, the Parliament and I worked hard for the Ukrainian people to have Autocephaly. All the Hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, of the Patriarchate of Kyiv, of the autocephalous Church and part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Moscow, signed a petition of appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the granting of this Autocephaly, which has been the dream of the entire Ukrainian nation for 1030 years. On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I express my deep gratitude for this wise decision to grant Autocephaly to the unified Orthodox Ukrainian Church. The agreement that we signed today will greatly assist us so that the Tomos of Autocephaly may be granted very soon.”
President Poroshenko mentioned, among other things, that the Bilateral Agreement signed will assist the Ukrainian people on the way toward autocephaly, while also bringing an end to heresies and tensions, so that peace will once again prevail in Ukraine.
The private meeting was attended by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton.
Afterward, the Ecumenical Patriarch accompanied the President of Ukraine to the Venerable Patriarchal Church, where he paid his respects and was informed by the Grand Syngellos Amvrosios about the Church’s history and the sacred treasures preserved there.