Patriarch of Constantinople legalizes Ukrainian schismatics
A "unification council" naming Epiphany Dumenko as head of the new "autocephalous church" was held in Kiev in December on the initiative of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew, Sputnik news reports.
Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew has signed a tomos granting autocephaly to Ukraine's New Church, according to local media reports.
Ahead of the ceremony, a joint prayer was held in St George's Cathedral in the Turkish capital of Istanbul. Epiphany, the head of the "new church," attended the ceremony, as well as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with his spouse; chairman of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy; Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv; Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak; and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.
The Moscow Patriarchate has repeatedly stressed that the process was nothing more than a "legalisation of schism" and insists that the council was a "complete failure" and no unification took place at all.
In September, Patriarch Bartholomew appointed Bishop Daniel of Pamphilon from the United States and Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton, Canada as its exarchs to Ukraine as part of preparations for granting autocephaly to Ukraine.
According to Sputnik news, the decision was met with criticism by the Russian Orthodox Church, which said that it saw division inside the Orthodox religious community.