Greek bishops in February will decide whether or not to recognize the independent status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church after its recent split from the Russian church, according to the Greek media.
“The decision was ceded to the [Greek] hierarchy after a session on Tuesday by the Perpetual Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, made up of 12 bishops,” reported Greek daily Ekathimerini.
On Saturday at the Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko received the Tomos of Autocephaly (autonomy) of Ukraine’s church from the hands of Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew.
Bartholomew had earlier requested recognition of the Ukrainian church’s new status by sending letters to 13 Orthodox patriarchates and churches.
But Russian Patriarch Kirill also sent letters asking the churches and patriarchates to reject the split, Ekathimerini said.
On Oct. 11, the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul greenlit the process for the Ukrainian church’s independence, over Russia’s objections, and with Ukrainian-Russian geopolitical tensions in the background.
The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was created following the results of the Dec. 15 All-Ukrainian Orthodox Unity Council, where Epiphanius, the metropolitan of Pereiaslav and Bila Tserkva, was elected primate of the local Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The independence decision comes in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 — a move not recognized by either Turkey or the UN — as well as unrest on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.
An incident last November when Russia fired on Ukrainian vessels around the Kerch Straits exacerbated bilateral tensions.