The Kyiv Orthodox church is seeking independence from the Moscow Patriarchate / Photo from UNIAN

The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has drafted the Ukrainian church's constitutional charter in anticipation of the issuance of the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos.

"In the context of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's previously-made decision to grant autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine, and in anticipation of the issuance of the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos, the Holy and Sacred Synod drafted the Ukrainian Church's Constitutional Charter," the Synod said in a communique on Thursday, November 29, 2018.

During its sessions, which began on November 27, the Synod examined all of the items on the agenda, including the Ukrainian church's constitutional charter, upon which the appropriate decisions were made.

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In particular, upon the recommendation of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, within the context of his canonical responsibility, the Holy and Sacred Synod reorganized the status of the "Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe," thereby entrusting its faithful to the Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne in Europe.

Read also"After autocephaly, there will be no Moscow spirit in Ukraine" – Patriarch Filaret

The Holy and Sacred Synod, in unanimously accepting the proposal of the Autonomous Church of Finland under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, recorded in the Hagiologion of the Orthodox Church the Venerable John of Valamo (1873-1958), and the Holy Martyr and Confessor, John of Ilomantsi (1884-1918), both of whom lived and worked there.

At the conclusion of these sessions, His All-Holiness and His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Vryoula, on behalf of the Holy and Sacred Synod, exchanged festal addresses for the upcoming feasts of Christmas and the New Year, the Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod said.

As UNIAN reported earlier, following the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople October 11, it was announced that the procedure of granting Ukraine autocephaly would continue.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko emphasizes that the process of creating an autocephalous (independent) church is being finalized, all conditions have been created for preparing for a local council, so that the tomos, a document granting autocephaly to the local Orthodox church in Ukraine, could be provided in accordance with the canons of the church.

The Russian-backed clergy said their church would not take part in the creation of the local autocephalous church in Ukraine. They also declared they were going to sever Eucharistic communion with Constantinople.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate under Patriarch Filaret is leading a drive to establish a national church independent of the Russian Orthodox Church in the face of strong opposition from Moscow.

The Ukrainian church split from its Russian parent following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, but Filaret has stepped up his drive for an independent national church since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of a Kremlin-backed separatist insurgency in the eastern Donbas region.

The row in Orthodox Christianity has deepened with the Russian Church saying it will no longer take part in structures chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the global spiritual leadership of Orthodox Christians, whose backing the Ukrainians are seeking for their independence bid.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian denomination worldwide with more than 250 million members. But unlike the Roman Catholic Church it has no supreme leader comparable to the Pope but instead is composed mainly of de facto national churches, each led by a patriarch.