Orthodox envoys meet with Ukraine’s president

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, and Archbishop Ilarion of Edmonton from Canada shake hands during their meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has appointed two exarchs in Kiev for the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. (Mikhail Palinchak/Presidential Press Service Pool Photo via AP)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president has met with two envoys dispatched by the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians to prepare for establishing a Ukrainian church that is ecclesiastically independent from the Russian Orthodox Church.

The prospect of an autocephalous church in Ukraine has deeply angered the Russian church, which last week gave a sharp spiritual rebuff to Ecumenical Patriarch Batholomew I and questioned his status as “first among equals.”

Archbishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA said in the Monday meeting with President Petro Poroshenko that “we have come to Ukraine this time … to continue work on the question that has already been decided, that the beginning of the process of declaring the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autocephalous has begun.”

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