Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Heather Nauert has said the United States respects the ability of Ukraine's Orthodox religious leaders and followers to pursue autocephaly according to their beliefs.
"The United States strongly supports religious freedom, including the freedom of members of groups to govern their religion according to their beliefs and practice their faiths freely without government interference. The United States respects the ability of Ukraine's Orthodox religious leaders and followers to pursue autocephaly according to their beliefs. We respect the Ecumenical Patriarch as a voice of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue," Nauert said in a press statement.
"The United States maintains unwavering support for Ukraine and its territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine and the Russian occupation of Crimea. We also support Ukraine as it charts its own path and makes its own decisions and associations, free of external interference," she said.
As UNIAN reported earlier, President Poroshenko on April 17 convened leaders of parliamentary factions and stated that he would appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with a request to proclaim the independence of the Ukrainian local church.
Hierarchs on September 2 held meetings (Synaxis) of the Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Throne Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey, to consider the question whether the Church of Constantinople is authorized, without the consent of other churches, to grant autonomy, or autocephaly, to a church that has requested it.
Following the meetings, the answer was positive: "Yes, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is authorized to grant autocephaly without any consent [from other churches]," the Ukrainian news outlet Hromadske said.
Poroshenko on September 17 met with two envoys, Exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton and the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in Canada and Archbishop Daniel of Pamphylia and the Western Eparchy of the UOC in the United States of America dispatched to prepare for establishing a Ukrainian church that is ecclesiastically independent from the Russian Orthodox Church.