Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he is still ready to meet with archbishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) despite the failure of a Tuesday meeting over the venue and invites the churchmen to the "Ukrainian House" International Convention Center.
"Consistently defending the unity of Ukraine, striving for the unity of the Ukrainian Church, the President of Ukraine initiated a meeting with all the archbishops of the UOC-MP a few weeks ago, inviting them to the Ukrainian House," Poroshenko's Press Secretary Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote on Facebook on November 13.
"The president invited the UOC-MP leaders for a dialogue so that they hear first-hand information on his talks with the Ecumenical Patriarch, the agreement between Ukraine and the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the readiness of the Ecumenical See to facilitate the conduct of a unification council," Tsegolko said in a statement on behalf of the Presidential Administration's press service.
"But those who do not want a result are looking for a reason to refuse. Which is what most of the UOC-MP archbishop did by starting to look for explanations not to come for the meeting, supposedly because the venue was not right," the statement said.
"Neither the language of ultimatums, nor the Synod [council] meeting held according to a scenario sent, probably, from Moscow, can derail the process of creating a local Orthodox church in Ukraine. This process is supported by the absolute majority of our country's citizens. So going against the will of our own people is obviously a path to nowhere," it said.
"The president of Ukraine is ready for a dialogue. The doors of the Ukrainian House remain open," the president's statement concluded.
Instead of meeting with Poroshenko at the Ukrainian House at 14:00 Kyiv time on November 13, the UOC-MP leaders gathered at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery for a council to announce they do not recognize a decision by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to continue the process of granting autocephaly to the church in Ukraine. They also declared they were going to sever Eucharistic communion with Constantinople. Besides, the UOC-MP clergy announced their church would not take part in the creation of a new, autocephalous church in Ukraine.
Earlier on Tuesday the UOC-MP bishops' council said they were ready for a meeting with Poroshenko, but only on the church's grounds.
"The archbishops' council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church confirms readiness for a meeting with the President of Ukraine, but on the church's grounds," the council said.