Archbishop of Athens on Ukrainian issue: We are a family with the Ecumenical Patriarch, how can I go elsewhere?
Asked about the war currently being waged in Ukraine and its religious connotations, Archbishop Ieronymos stressed that “Russia, the Russian people, did not live in a democracy. They are a troubled people and this may be exploited by both Kirill and the government.”
He noted that “it is Ukraine that first accepted Christianity. This is one reason why Ukraine should want to be an independent Church. Also, things are moving forward. When a state becomes independent, it is not unnatural to want its Church to be independent. Thus independence has been given to other parties after the creation of states, it is nothing new.”
He revealed that he had received on this issue, the recognition of Autocephaly, and visits from the ambassador of both the USA and Russia, before announcing his decision.
“I was visited by the Ambassador of America and three times by the Ambassador of Russia. And to the Ambassador of America, I said that I would side with the Patriarch and therefore your will will be done, but it is not a political choice, I am not doing this because America is pursuing this, I am doing this because I respect what the Patriarch says.
And I told the Russian I was sorry, but the Patriarch and I are family. How am I supposed to leave the family and go somewhere else? I stand by the Patriarch.”