Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky meets Bartholomew in Constantinople
The meeting was cordial and relaxed. Zelensky, who is Jewish, is attentive to Ukrainian expectations, whilst maintaining a certain neutrality vis-à-vis Orthodox issues. Orthodoxy’s 12 Orthodox have not followed Moscow in breaking communion with Constantinople.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Four months after his election as president of the Ukraine, Volodymir Zelensky met Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, in Constantinople, yesterday.
The visit comes eight months after the Kyiv-based Orthodox Church of Ukraine was granted autocephaly, which led the Moscow Patriarchate to unilaterally cut sacramental ties with Constantinople.
It must be noted that whilst the other 12 Orthodox Churches have not yet recognised Ukraine’s autocephaly, neither have they followed Moscow in its sacramental break with Constantinople.
According to local sources, the visit took place in a very cordial and relaxed atmosphere, a fact confirmed by the statements made at the end of the meeting.
Both leaders noted that the meeting was a sign of change in bilateral relations in favour of the Ukrainian people, whom the mother church in Constantinople has tried to help through a thousand difficulties, despite opposition and various negative reactions.
After the customary exchange of gifts, the Ukrainian leader expressed his gratitude to the Patriarch and the Ecumenical Patriarchate for always working for peace and unity of the Ukrainian people, and for granting autocephaly so as to overcome further schisms that would weaken this Church.
In turn, Bartholomew thanked President Zelensky for the visit, noting that, based on ancient Orthodox canons, the See of Saint Andrew the Apostle is tasked with granting autocephaly to Orthodox Churches.
According to those present, Zelensky's visit went beyond expectations. Even the President's entourage were enthusiastic.
Zelensky, who is Jewish, has always maintained a certain neutrality towards Orthodox issues, but has shown understanding vis-Ե-vis the demands of the majority of the Ukrainian people.