The Ukraine embassy on Friday welcomed as historic the decision of the Holy Synod to recognise the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, saying the move was highly appreciated by the people of the country, the Cyprus News Agency reported.
The embassy’s statements comes a day after Russia’s ambassador in Nicosia Stanislav Osadchiy blamed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the crisis among Orthodox churches and the division in the Holy Synod over the issue and expressed the hope that it would not affect relations between Russia and Cyprus.
The fracas follows the decision of Archbishop Chrysostomos to commemorate the Metropolitan of Kiev and of Ukraine Epiphany among the heads of the churches, thus recognising the independence or autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine.
Amid protests from other prelates, the issue went to the Holy Synod which on Wednesday voted by majority of ten to seven not to oppose the archbishop’s move, but dissenters did not appear prepared to comply, despite the decision being binding
Asked by the Cyprus News Agency to comment on the Holy Synod’s decision, the embassy of the Ukraine spoke of an “excellent and doubtless historical event” which was very important to the people of Ukraine and the Orthodox world. “Of course, it will be well received within Ukrainian society,” it added.
The impact will reverberate outside the churches, it added. “In Ukraine, the church is part of the central pillar of society. Recognition of the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is an act of unity and support,” embassy said.
The embassy also quoted Metropolitan Epiphany who said the move restored ties dating back in history and noting that there were significant obstacles in the establishment of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine within the family of Orthodox churches, most of which were artificial as they aimed to divide.
Observers have suggested Chrysostomos had commemorated Epiphany at the behest of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is at odds with the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Church of Ukraine was also recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in February 2019 but was excommunicated by the Patriarchate of Moscow, which considers Ukraine part of its canonical territory, by virtue of a concession from Constantinople dating back to 1682.
In 2018, the Russian Orthodox Church severed all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over its endorsement of Ukraine’s request for an autocephalous church.