US opens "gates of hell" in Ukraine religious dispute
The US State Department has issued a statement in support of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and autocephaly of the Ukrainian church.Source: B92, Sputnik
"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," Sputnik cited a US State Department press release, which added:
"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."
The statement then stresses that the US "maintains unwavering support for Ukraine and its territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine and the Russian occupation of Crimea."
The United States did not stand aside either, during the early phases of the escalation of the schism among Orthodox Christians. Among other things, the State Department, while headed by John Kerry (2013-2017), set up a special office for religious issues that was tasked with contacting all leaders of Ukrainian churches, Sputnik recalled.
Earlier, the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that "in the framework of preparations for giving autocephaly to the Orthodox church in Ukraine" it had named its "exarchs" in Kiev.
This decision was strongly condemned by the Russian Orthodox Church, calling it an attack on the canonical territory of another church. The Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) did not stay aside. Bishop Irinej said that Orthodoxy was threatened by a schism greater than that between the East and the West.