U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has supported Kyiv it its efforts to establish an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
"The United States reiterates its strong support for religious freedom and the freedom of members of religious groups, including Ukraine's Orthodox community, to govern their religion according to their beliefs, free of outside interference," he said in a press statement on October 19, according to the U.S. Department of State's website.
"We support Ukrainians' ability to worship as they choose and hope this will be respected by all. Tolerance, restraint, and understanding are key to ensuring that people with different religious affiliations can live and prosper together in peace," he said.
"We urge Church and government officials to actively promote these values in connection with the move towards the establishment of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church," Pompeo added.
As UNIAN reported earlier, on October 11, following a meeting of the Holy Synod, a decision was announced, stating that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceeds to granting autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine. In addition, the legal binding of the Synod's letter of 1686 was abolished, thus taking the Kyiv Metropolis from under Moscow's canonical jurisdiction. Also, head of the UOC of the Kyiv Patriarchate Filaret and head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Makariy were reinstated in their canonical status.
The Kremlin vowed to protect the interests of Orthodox believers in Ukraine "politically and diplomatically," claiming Moscow did not intend to interfere in the "interchurch dialogue."
On October 15, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church made a decision to sever eucharistic communication with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.