Petro Poroshenko to participants of Unification Council: Ukraine's future depends on you
Speaking at St. Sophia, where the Unification Council takes place, Petro Poroshenko wished its participants fruitful work.
“I appeal directly to all of you, members of the Council, to the hierarchs of Churches. This is a colossal responsibility that rests on you at this moment. The state, I reiterate, did everything it could on its part. Now, the future of Ukraine, the future of our great nation, our freedom, our state and spiritual independence depends on you and only on you. You must approve the Charter. You must choose the Primate, and the Tomos is already waiting for the Primate in the Phanar. So everything depends on your ability to come to agreement, on your ability to hear each other, to hear for the sake of Ukraine,” the President invoked.
In his address to the members of the Cathedral, Poroshenko reminded how the process of creating the Local Church began, but today, according to the President, the last step in the “millenial history of a great dream” is being made.
The President once again thanked Patriarch Bartholomew for his wisdom and courage in making the decision to grant the Tomos for the Church in Ukraine.
We bring to your attention the text of the statement, which was spread by the press service of the Head of State.
Your Eminences - the most reverend representatives of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew!
Dear members of the Council!
By the will of God, we have assembled in St Sophia a thousand years after the temple was built and blessed by the efforts of Yaroslav the Wise, and the worship was performed there for the first time.
Here the heirs of the Baptism have convened, which the Holy and Equal-to-the-Apostles, Prince Volodymyr received from the Mother Church of Constantinople. Again, as then, with us the legates of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who supports our dream of spiritual freedom, are here with us.
For a thousand years, it has been confirmed more than once: in order to establish a statehood, Ukraine should get rid of the chains that conquer us spiritually, which divide and make us free or non-free performers of somebody else’s will.
A century ago, during the Ukrainian National Liberation Revolution, Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky and Symon Petliura started the path of Ukraine to the autocephalous Orthodox Church. Many events that witnessed this great aspiration also took place in these walls of St. Sophia, or on the square along those walls.
Independent Ukraine bows before its great ancestors and remembers their will. Today everything is ready for us to fulfill this will. We take the last step on the millennial path to the holy and great purpose.
I want to remind that today's Unification Council has been preceded in our long history with the long-lasting efforts of both the religious and secular authorities and millions of Ukrainian Orthodox people. For several decades, we not only prayed, but built church entities, which are now the foundation of an independent and recognized Ukrainian Church.
I would like to point out here the role of Viktor Yushchenko, who is present with us inside these walls, and who then initiated an intensive dialogue with the Mother Church.
After the forced pause of 2010-2014, these negotiations resumed, right after the first days of my presidency. They lasted several years, until at the Paschal meeting of the President of Ukraine with His Holiness the road map was agreed upon, which brought the process to the finish line.
The Mother Church of Constantinople implements its mission according to the canons - to introduce the autocephalous local Orthodox Church of Ukraine as equal among equal to the family of local Orthodox Churches. The Ecumenical Patriarch finally declared as illegal Moscow's annexation of the Kyivan Metropolia in the late 17th century. His Holiness has declared that the Russian Orthodox Church has no canonical rights regarding the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. And that our Orthodox Church should not be subject to the Russian Orthodox Church.
I reiterate that Ukraine was not, is not and will not be the canonical territory of the Russian Church!
In April, immediately after returning from Constantinople, after creating the roadmap agreed with His Holiness, I appealed to the Ukrainian Parliament to support my appeal to His Holiness about granting us autocephaly. I also want to thank Mr. Andriy Parubiy, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada who is also present here, for more than convincing parliamentary support for the President's appeal. And this is extremely important on our way!
In November this year, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate approved the text of the Tomos on the granting of independence to the Ukrainian Church and made a decision to convene a unification Orthodox Council. Our Council, the historic Cathedral.
I extend again my gratitude to everyone who believed that it was possible, and to all who fought for it, to everyone who was not afraid.
To all who rejected their own ambitions so this day may come and the Church was created. Thank you very much!
It is with a heartfelt gratitude that we bow before Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his incredible care of Ukraine. We see how much courage and wisdom His All-Holiness embodies.
I am grateful to everyone who gathered today on the square in front of St. Sophia Cathedral. They gathered at about 8 am and waited for hours in the cold. They are not observers, they are also the founders of our new church. These are believers of various Ukrainian Churches. And I want to emphasize that we are united by the understanding that a great statehood issue is being solved now. And I want to say to those who came: you are the direct participants in the formation of the Ukrainian independent church.
It’s you who came today to the square, the people in the Church of St. Sophia, who are creating Ukrainian history right here and right now. You will carry good news about the establishment of the autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Please, tell everything about this historical event.
The issue of autocephaly is the issue of our Ukrainian national security. This is a question of our Ukrainian statehood. Finally, we have gained the spiritual independence, which can be compared with gaining the political independence. We are cutting off the chains that bind us to the empire. We are returning to our God-determined path and are going our own way now.
I appeal directly to all of you, members of the Council, to the hierarchs of the churches. This is a colossal responsibility that rests on you at this moment. The state, I reiterate, did everything it could on its part. Now, the future of Ukraine, the future of our great nation, our freedom, our state and spiritual independence depends on you and only on you. You must approve the Charter. You must choose the Primate, and the Tomos is already waiting for the Primate in the Phanar. So everything depends on your ability to come to agreement, on your ability to hear each other, to hear for Ukraine's sake.
We all remember the words of St. Apostle Peter: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble!” So, for the sake of Our Lord and Ukraine, make your reasonable, judicious decisions.
I believe that you are the right people at the right time and in the right place. I wish the Unification Council fruitful work.
Glory to the Lord and Glory to Ukraine!