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Ukrainian archbishops complain about Moscow pressure

The president promised to protect the right of priests and believers to free choice of church jurisdiction.

Archbishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) complained about unprecedented pressure by Moscow at a meeting with President Petro Poroshenko, according to his spokesman Svyatoslav Tseholko.

The pressure is being exerted on the UOC MP archbishops supportive of Ukraine's drive for an independent church.

"The Russian scenario was foiled yesterday. Representatives of a group of UOC MP archbishops, who support our address to the Ecumenical Patriarch on autocephaly, met the president of Ukraine in the Ukrainian House," Tseholko said on Facebook.

The president briefed them on his talks with Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew and the Ecumenical Seat's readiness to facilitate a unification assembly.

The president promised to protect the right of priests and believers to free choice of church jurisdiction. He added that the Ecumenical Patriarch guarantees canonical protection to autocephaly supporters in Ukraine.

Late on Tuesday, Poroshenko met several UOC MP archbishops behind closed doors.

The meeting was to take place in the afternoon however the UOC MP was holding its assembly in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra at the same time. The UOC MP decided not to join efforts to create an independent Ukrainian Church and announced that the end of communion with Constantinople. This decision was rather formal as it had already been made by the Russian Orthodox Church in which the UOC MP is incorporated.

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