His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, in his final capacity of the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch to Ukraine, traveled to Constantinople, (Istanbul) Turkey, where he took part in the formal procedures of signing and granting Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on January 5-6, 2019.
Present at the historic and religious events were clergy and faithful from Ukraine, representing over 45 million Ukrainian throughout the world.
His Excellency President Petro Poroshenko took part in the ceremony of signing the Tomos of Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul. The solemn ceremony took place in the Patriarchal Church of St. George.
After the ceremony, the Head of Ukrainian State appealed to the attendees: "Your All-Holiness, Your Beatitude, Your Eminence, Ladies and Gentlemen. Dear Ukrainians who are watching us today in Ukraine and around the world, who have been waiting for this event for thousands of years. Thank God! For without God's will this event would have been impossible".
"I am grateful to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his faith. Your All-Holiness, these applause are heard all over the world," Petro Poroshenko said.
The President thanked Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his faith and love for Ukraine, for his prayer for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, for the courage that His All-Holiness has demonstrated throughout his life, but especially after the Great Monday - the first day after Easter in 2018, when the public process of granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine started.
"I want to thank the Holy Synod, the Ecumenical Patriarchate Council. I want to thank every hierarch who signed the appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch to provide autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine," the President said.
The Head of State expressed gratitude to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Chairman of the Parliament Andriy Parubiy, to every deputy who voted for the support of the President's appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch on the provision of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
"And most importantly - I want to thank millions of Ukrainians around the world who responded to the call to pray - pray for the Church to come true. Due to your prayers it became possible," Petro Poroshenko emphasized.
He also noted that he was grateful to the generations of Ukrainians who had dreamed about that for either 1030 years, or 332 years, or 100 years. "At last, God has bestowed the Orthodox Church of Ukraine upon us," Petro Poroshenko emphasized.
The President joined the words of gratitude to the patriarchal exarchs, noting that their efforts in this matter cannot be overestimated.
Upon completion of the ceremony of signing the Tomos, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew appealed to Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy:
Your Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv and all Ukraine,
Your Excellency Mr. Petro Poroshenko, President of the Ukraine,
Most Reverend and Right Reverend brothers in Christ,
Dearly beloved people of Ukraine,
“Behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time for singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (Song of Songs 2.11–12)
We feel that these lyrics of the wise Solomon describe today’s feast and celebration when the Holy Great Church of Christ in Constantinople is elevating the Holy Metropolis of Kyiv and all Ukraine to an Autocephalous Church. Indeed, “the winter is past” for schisms and divisions. “The rain is over and gone” for ecclesiastical isolation. The flower of unity “appears on the earth” and “the time has come” for the glorious Holy Metropolis of Kyiv to acquire its ecclesiastical independence, being included in the body of the local and most holy Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, through the addition of the honorable name of Your Beatitude to the records of the Orthodox Canonical Diptychs.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
It is known that the Ecumenical Patriarchate founded the Holy Metropolis of Kyiv after previously demonstrating its concern for the illumination and baptism of the glorious and Christ-loving Kyivan people. In the unfolding of the centuries throughout its history, the Church of Constantinople always proved an affectionate Mother, sacrificially caring about the challenges that arose periodically, protecting and preserving this sacred eparchy like the apple of its eye from temptations to change faith, Orthodox doctrine and ecclesial mindset. And whenever historical circumstances so imposed, through our ever-memorable predecessor Dionysios IV, the Ecumenical Patriarchate permitted the ordination of the Metropolitan of Kyiv by the presiding Patriarch of Moscow, albeit never conceding its canonical jurisdiction to the Russian Patriarchate. After all, the inviolable condition of commemorating the name of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Sacred Services and the Divine Liturgy demonstrates the perpetual canonical dependence of the Metropolis of Kyiv from its Mother Church of Constantinople. However, as witnessed by archival sources and events, both past and more recent, not even the Kyivan people ever accepted that it constitutes part of the Church of Moscow, actually on occasion raising vehement objection to this. Already from the year 1325, when the see of the Metropolis of Kyiv finally was transferred permanently to Moscow, the faithful people of Kyiv desired its ecclesiastical independence—a desire that with the passing of centuries was rendered “a powerful and unbearable desire of the soul.” This is also why the historical first Constitution of Ukraine, composed in the year of the Lord 1710, envisioned that “the Orthodox Church in Ukraine should remain under the most holy Apostolic Throne of Constantinople.”
Along with all this irrefutable and unwavering historical evidence, we have of course taken into consideration the periodical requests for the bestowal of autocephaly both on the part of the Hierarchy and on the part of the State. Moreover, we have deemed especially significant the requests of Your Beatitude, representing the Hierarchs, clergy and pious people of the recently convened Unification Synod (Sobor), as well as of His Excellency Mr. Petro Poroshenko, President of the Ukrainian Republic. Thus, having come together in the Holy Spirit, we reached the synodal decision to grant the ecclesiastical status of autocephaly to the blessed land of Ukraine.
Today, a new page opens in the history of Ukraine. The Church of Constantinople, which in similar manner bestowed the ecclesiastical status of autocephaly to all the newly-founded local Churches, today likewise presents to Your hands, through the grace of Christ who appeared on earth, the Tomos of Autocephaly for Your Church. The all-merciful God has reserved this sublime honor to You, “God has chosen you, entrusted you, not by human election . . . Do not blaspheme or shame the election of God,” as St. John Chrysostom asserts.
Today, officially and canonically, you become the fifteenth Church in the blessed choir of Autocephalous Churches. We entreat and exhort You to strive for unity and peace, first and foremost on a local level with Your brother Hierarchs in Ukraine; and not only with them, but also with those brother Hierarchs who still remain under the omophorion of His Beatitude our brother Patriarch of Moscow, in order that, through Your inspired presence and prudent administrative service, you may help them understand that Ukraine deserves a united church body. Create the presuppositions for reconciliation. Work only on the basis of ecclesiological criteria. Administer with love, humility and self-sacrifice. The future belongs to You.
Finally, never forget this benevolence of the Mother Church, which commenced from the time of the baptism of Your pious people and is today sealed with the bestowal of ecclesiastical administrative independence. The history of the Orthodox Church is a history of redemption and salvation. Aware of this, our Holy Great Church of Christ is today acting without any self-interest, but only for the unity of the Ukrainian people and the salvation of its faithful. Therefore, follow this way of redemption and salvation; and regard the Tomos of Autocephaly, which You receive today, not as a symbol of power but as a testimony of love and sacrificial mind, so that You may offer salvation and Christ to Your flock in Ukraine. Make good use of the privileges contained in this Tomos, treating them as elements of crucified love and not as premises for the establishment of an authoritarian Church.
As for us, from this venerable Orthodox Center, we shall affectionately follow Your steps and always extend a supportive hand, whenever You so desire. We also look forward to our positive and excellent collaboration, for the glory of God and the salvation of our faithful.
Be strong and be well, then, Your Beatitude and dear brother; and serve as First Hierarch for the sake of righteousness, truth and meekness. May the grace of Christ who appeared on earth be with You and with our Holy Churches. Amen.
In turn, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy thanked Patriarch Bartholomew for signing the Tomos, noting that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was waiting for its granting with impatience and excitement.
"I would also like to express our gratitude to the President of Ukraine and all those who worked with him and under his leadership to help us accomplish the dream of generations of Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchs and believers to have an Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Your name, Mr. President, will remain forever in the history of the Ukrainian people and the church next to the names of our princes Volodymyr the Great, Yaroslav the Wise, Kostiantyn Ostrozky and Hetman Ivan Mazepa," he said.
Later in the day, the Presidne tof Ukraine, speaking on behalf of the nation of Ukraine, stated:
A great historic event, in which the Lord was with us, with Ukrainians, has just finished. And we, Ukrainians, were with the Lord. The Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine has finally received the Tomos from the Ecumenical Patriarch, from the Mother Church.
The Lord saw and commended the persistent struggle of the Ukrainian people for their independence. He heard our prayers. He gave us proper reparation for our work and facilitated that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Synod of the Constantinople Mother Church said the long-awaited "yes" to the independent Church of Ukraine.
Today's event in the history of our country will remain in line with St. Vladimir’s baptism and the proclamation of Ukraine's independence. The Orthodox world will remember the day when the Church of Ukraine possessing equal rights joined the family of sister churches.
Our country has covered a long path to this day. And no wonder that yesterday His All-Holiness recalled in his speech Olga - our first Christian Princess and Equal of the Apostles Prince Vladimir-Baptist. And long before them, the holy Apostle Andrew stood on the mountains of Kyiv and "his eyes saw Ukraine, and the mouth - blessed. And he planted the seed of faith in us". This, by the way, is a quotation from the decisions of our Orthodox Council of 1621.
For over a thousand years, Kyiv's Christian tradition has been respected and multiplied. Today, our Orthodox Church is ready for independent existence. The Ukrainian people thank God and what has happened is a true miracle, which we owe to the Creator's will.
We rejoice that the Ecumenical Patriarch, as the spiritual leader of hundreds of millions of Orthodox people, as a global figure heard our voice and our requests. And the tireless work of His All-Holiness on the spiritual field will forever remain in the history of the church and in the history of nations, especially the Orthodox.
And the Tomos for us is actually another act of proclaiming Ukraine's independence. It will complete the assertion of the independence of the Ukrainian state, strengthen religious freedom, interconfessional peace. It will strengthen the rights and freedoms of citizens, especially those who were outside the communion with the Ecumenical Orthodoxy and who were unjustly called non-canonical.
His All-Holiness these days especially emphasizes the importance of restoring the communication of millions and millions of Ukrainian believers with the fullness of the world Orthodoxy. In addition, for Ukrainians, our own Church is a guarantee of our spiritual freedom. This is the key to social harmony.
And as President, I guarantee on behalf of the state that Ukraine will respect the religious choices and freedom of religion of every citizen.
I congratulate all those who care about the rise of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. And I thank everyone who tirelessly worked on its emergence, created unity and restored justice!
St. Sophia, the wisdom of God was with us and we fulfilled our duty to the past and to the next generations.
Glory to God! Glory to Ukraine!
Text: Presidential Administration of Ukraine
5 січня 2019 р., вранці, у патріаршому храмі святого Георгія Переможця на Фанарі в Константинополі відбувся молебень за участі Предстоятеля Православної Церкви України Блаженнішого Митрополита Київського і всієї України Епіфанія, великої кількості духовенства обох Церков, Президента України Петра Порошенка, Голови Верховної ради України Андрія Парубія, та вищих посадових осіб України, а також безлічі вірян. Загалом на церемонію підписання томосу приїхало чимало священиків і віруючих з усього світу.
Після спільної молитви відбулася перша зустріч очільника Константинопольського Патріархату Його Всесвятості Варфоломія та Предстоятеля Української Православної Церкви Блаженнішого Митрополита Епіфанія, на якій сторони тепло поспілкувалися і подякували Богу за Його благодіяння.
Після цього в урочистій обстановці в патріаршому храмі святого Георгія в Стамбулі Вселенський Патріарх Варфоломій підписав томос для Православної Церкви України, таким чином схваливши рішення про надання автокефалії Українській Церкві. Перед підписанням текст документа був зачитаний грецькою мовою.
Після підписання до усіх присутніх в храмі звернувся Його Всесвятість Патріарх Варфоломій, Його Блаженство Митрополит Епіфаній та Президент України Петро Порошенко. Зокрема Константинопольський Патріарх Варфоломій заявив, що Вселенський патріархат завжди буде на боці Православної Церкви України. За його словами, Константинополь працюватиме над зростанням новоствореної Православної Церкви і допомагатиме долати усілякі труднощі задля блага Української Церкви і держави.
На завершення цієї визначної події у Тронній залі для почесних гостей відбулося прийняття Вселенського Патріарха, де також до усіх присутніх зі словами вітань звернулися Митрополит Епіфаній, а також Його Всесвятість Патріарх Варфоломій.
Ввечері, під час урочистого прийому, який організував Глава Української держави Петро Порошенко, священнослужителі отримали державні нагороди з рук Президента. Після виступів Всесвятішого Патріарха Варфоломія, Блаженнішого Митрополита Епіфанія та Президента Петра Порошенка відбувся традиційний обмін подарунками.
Джерело: Православна Церква України
Photos by Andriy Sydor and Presidential Administration of Ukraine