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Ecumenical Patriarch's representative arrives in Kyiv, affirms support for Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 10, 2023 5:04 PM 2 min read
Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, a personal representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople Bartholomew, meets Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Aug. 10, 2023. (Source: Orthodox Church of Ukraine)
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Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, a representative of Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople Bartholomew, arrived in Kyiv and held a meeting with the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) on Aug. 10.

The envoy of Patriarch Bartholomew, who is considered to be the most senior ecclesiastical authority in the Eastern Orthodox Church, met Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine at the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, the OCU's press service said.

"With the blessing of His Holiness our Patriarch Bartholomew, I come to Kyiv to affirm the constant support of the Mother Church to the heroic people of Ukraine, who are resisting the unjust and cruel Russian aggression," Metropolitan Emmanuel said.

"During the visit of His Eminence the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to the Ecumenical Patriarchate a month ago, the humanitarian dimension of the implementation of the peace formula proposed by Ukraine, as well as other humanitarian initiatives, were discussed," he said, adding that these are also the reasons of his visit to Ukraine.

Zelensky met Patriarch Bartholomew during his visit to Istanbul in early July to discuss Ukraine's peace formula for ending the Russo-Ukrainian War and the repatriation of children abducted by Russia.

The OCU's press service said that during the meeting, Metropolitan Epiphany held a "warm and fruitful" phone call with Patriarch Bartholomew.

The OCU's primate also accompanied Bartholomew's representative to the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, "which is gradually freeing itself from the yoke of the 'Russian world'," the OCU's press service said.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is one of the two main Orthodox churches in the country, along with the Kremlin-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). Patriarch Bartholomew granted the OCU a tomos of autocephaly – ecclesial autonomy – in January 2019.

The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra has long served as the seat of the UOC-MP. However, since the start of the Russian full-scale invasion, the clergy of the Kremlin-linked church came under increased suspicion for collaborating or sympathizing with Russian forces.

Since November last year, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has conducted dozens of raids on Moscow Patriarchate churches, including the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. During the searches, the SBU found Russian propaganda, xenophobic literature, as well as Russian passports of the church's leaders and documents with pro-Russian ideological messages.

The Ukrainian authorities then decided not to prolong the lease of the monastery and return it to the state. The Culture Ministry issued a statement on July 1 that monks must vacate five buildings of Lower Lavra by July 4 and hand over the keys to the National Reserve authorities.

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