From the Religious Information Service of the Ukraine:
MOSCOW—Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) expressed confidence that foreign structures will not interfere with church problems in Ukraine. In particular, they mean the Constantinople Patriarchate, which, according to the ROC representatives, the Ukrainian authorities hoped to engage in the establishment of a national church separate from the Moscow Patriarchate.
“They (Constantinople Patriarchate) understand well that Ukraine is an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church, that there exists spiritual unity of nations – Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovians, Belarusians,” noted the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Ilarion (Alfeiev) of Volokolamsk, at a press conference in Moscow about the visit of the head of ROC to Istanbul in early July.
News.ru reports that in the archbishop’s opinion, the very tone of the past negotiations shows that the Constantinople Patriarchate “does not envisage stabs in the back,” and gives hope that no “negotiations, aimed at supporting the schism” will be conducted. The archbishop noted that “no documents in this regard were signed” but the very “climate” of the negotiations implies a respectful attitude.
“Despite the complicated situation, the visit of the patriarch to Ukraine will be of a pastoral character and will make a significant positive contribution towards the consolidation of Orthodoxy in Ukraine,” said the archbishop.
In the hierarch’s opinion, the church problem in Ukraine is becoming “very politicized,” politicians exploit it for their campaigns. “But the church was formed for centuries and one cannot act to please the political conjuncture. The questions of the schism in Ukraine should be settled inside the church, without interference from politicians,” stressed the archbishop.
“This trip will be of no political character and will be aimed not at passing some resolutions but at supporting the Orthodox believers,” assured Archbishop Ilarion at the press conference.
During his visit planned for 27 July to 5 August, the head of ROC is to visit Kyiv, Donetsk, Horlivka, Simferopol, Sebastopol, Rivne, Lutsk, and Volodymyr-Volynskyi.
The third country to be visited by the Moscow Patriarch after Turkey and Ukraine is to be Belarus (September).