Viсtor Potapov, a Washington-based priest from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), told Sputnik on Monday that he visited Kiev in a show of support for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) amid ongoing crises over the granting of autocephaly to non-canonical religious institutions in Ukraine
WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 12th February, 2019) Viсtor Potapov, a Washington-based priest from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), told Sputnik on Monday that he visited Kiev in a show of support for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) amid ongoing crises over the granting of autocephaly to non-canonical religious institutions in Ukraine.
"I wanted to show support to the canonical church in Ukraine, which has the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine under its care," Potapov, who is rector of the Russian St. John the Baptist cathedral in Washington, DC, said.
On January 6, Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew handed over an independence decree, or tomos of autocephaly, to the newly-established Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The United States supported the move and congratulated the new church on obtaining autocephaly.
"What struck me in our conversation with metropolitan Onufry and hearing him in church the next Sunday, he would always try to emphasize the need for peace, non-violence and the in the belief that God will take care of his church, the need for people not to bring politics into church life," Potapov said.
Potapov also noted that the secular Ukrainian government is dictating its will to the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine and it was Kiev that asked the Constantinople Patriarchate to grant the non-canonical church autocephaly, Potapov noted.
"Metropolitan Onufry feels that autocephaly can come when the church and social structures of the country are at peace," Potapov said.
Epifanius was elected as head of the new structure during so-called unification council last December.
"We drove past the St. Sophia cathedral and it struck me that the square of the cathedral was empty. I watched Ukrainian tv, and it was very few people there - about 400 in the cathedral." Patapov said.
"In contrast, during the liturgy on February 3 which was served by metropolitan Onufry in the Kiev Caves monastery, the church was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was very prayerful," Potapov said.
Some Ukrainian government officials are not happy with autocephaly and believers are concerned about the possibility of their churches in the country's provinces being effectively hijacked.
"As far as I know, there are influential people who support metropolitan Onufry," Potapov said.
No other Orthodox churches sent representatives to be present at the enthroning ceremony for Epiphanius.