President during the thanksgiving service in Cherkasy region: Unity of the church and nation is a key to success for Ukraine. We will not repeat the mistakes of the past
President Petro Poroshenko took part in the thanksgiving service in Cherkasy region on occasion of granting the Tomos of autocephaly for the UOC.
The divine service was conducted by Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy.
The Head of State emphasized: “Autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church became possible, because we have learned the lessons of the past. Autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church became possible, because we are united”. The President thanked all Ukrainians who prayed for God to send Ukraine the autocephalous church. “We know the price of separation, for which the Ukrainian people in the past have paid a high price more than once. We know what it means not to draw conclusions from the history. Nobody remembers the reasons of discord among the UNR leaders, but Ukrainian people remember well the price of the Holodomor, when millions of Ukrainians died because of the lack of unity 100 years ago. Ukrainian people remember well Ukrainians tortured to death in the Gulag camps. Ukrainian people remember well how many Ukrainians died in the post-war period, how many of them were imprisoned in the 60s. We cannot repeat these mistakes,” the Head of State noted.
The President notes that in this process, the role of power is important, since autocephaly, independence of the church is a matter of state-building. "They say that the state has no right to interfere in church affairs. I fully agree with this, especially when the state is foreign ... they have tried and try to undermine the stability of our state from the inside. For almost three centuries, Moscow has used the church as a factor of powerful influence on Ukraine. After receiving the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, finally, after 333 years, we, Ukrainians, and our church were freed from the Moscow yoke. We gave a decent response to the Russian aggressor for this challenge to our statehood," Petro Poroshenko said. At the same time, he added that this response is canonical and constitutional, which is completely within the legal framework.
The President emphasized that the Tomos was just the beginning and there was much work ahead in the development of the new church. “The unity of the church and the nation, and hard work are the key to our success, success of our state. I emphasize that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a vivid example of the unity of our efforts. Our strength and our victory lie in unity," Petro Poroshenko said.
The Head of State thanked Cherkasy region where six communities have already joined the Ukrainian church.
"People boldly and confidently make their choice in spite of the pressure from the Moscow Patriarchate. Being among the first is always difficult. These people need our support. But we know that the lie and the ancient prejudices dissipate quickly, and the Ukrainian church will remain, as well as the gratitude of the people for those who created it," the President said. He assured that religious communities would decide whether to change their affiliation or not, and the choice of each person and parish would be protected. "Those who want, if it is their choice, will remain with the Moscow Patriarchate. If they prefer to go to the church, where the divine service begins with the prayer for Kirill, who prays for the Russian government and army, who is present at the board of the Ministry of Defense of Russia planning to kill Ukrainians, who participates in the Security Council of the Russian Federation, this is their choice. Ukraine is a democratic state and we will defend their right," Petro Poroshenko added.
The President commended yesterday's decision of the Verkhovna Rada on the law that regulates the mechanism of accession of religious organizations and the procedure for their state registration.
"I would like to emphasize - provocations of Moscow concerning autocephaly of the Ukrainian church are continued now. The enemy's goal, on the contrary, is to create conflicts around the transitions, set some of the communities against each other, test our unity. I insist that I will do everything necessary to preserve religious peace," the President said.
"They waited for someone to start seizing Lavra. No. We go with love and peace. They waited for someone, some nationalists, to start seizing temples. No. We have already learned the lessons well," the Head of State added.