Ukraine: Daily Briefing
December 17, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 16 times in total. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 8 and wounded 3 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. Ukraine announces creation of new national Orthodox Church, elects leader
Unity Council of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. December 15, Kyiv
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on December 15, “Ukrainian Orthodox leaders have agreed on the creation of a new national Orthodox church and elected a leader to head that church, a move that Ukraine’s leaders say is vital to the country’s security and independence. […]
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said 39-year-old Metropolitan Epifaniy of the Kyiv Patriarchate church had been chosen as head of the church by a council, comparing the move to Ukraine’s referendum for independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. […]
Epifaniy was chosen by a council at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv, built by the son of Prince Volodymyr, whose baptism in 988 led to the spread of Christianity in the region.
Addressing the crowd, Epifaniy said ‘God heard our appeals and gave us this anticipated unity.’He stressed that the new church’s doors would be open to all and encouraged Ukrainians to rally behind it. […]
Ukraine won approval for the new church in October from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, the seat of the global spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians. […] Several thousand people rallied outside the ancient St. Sophia’s where the meeting had taken place behind closed doors.”
3. Ecumenical Patriarch to deliver Tomos to Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church on January 6
The Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate stated, “It is with praise to God, great joy and satisfaction that the Ecumenical Patriarchate announces the successful completion of the work of the Unifying Synod (Sobor)-foundational of the new Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Ukraine-which was convened in Kyiv today, December 15th, 2018. Metropolitan Epiphanios of Pereiaslav and Belotserkovsky was elected as its Primate.
His Beatitude, the newly-elected Primate, contacted His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, expressed his respect and asked the wishes and blessings of the Mother Church for fruition of his primatial ministry, which starts under good auspices.
In this context, it is announced that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew invited His Beatitude Epiphanios to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy at the Phanar on the great feast of Theophany and to deliver to him the Tomos of establishment of the new sister Autocephalous Church.”
4. Address by Ukraine’s President following the establishment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
President Poroshenko’s address after establishment of Ukrainian Orthodox Church. To view video, please click on image above
Speaking following the establishment of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine on December 15, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated, “Dear friends, you are not witnesses. You are the creators of history, which is now happening. You are the direct participants of this great sacrament, which has just happened inside the St. Sophia’s Cathedral. The Cathedral that Yaroslav the Wise, the son of the Equal-to-apostles Prince Volodymyr the Baptist, built a thousand years ago in honor of the victory over the eastern horde.
That is why your presence here, your mass support was extremely important for all the members of the Council. Frankly, I felt it, being among delegates at the invitation of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.
So, it’s done! Today is December 15. I ask everyone who is watching us now: in Ukraine, all over the world – remember very well. This day will enter or has already entered the history of Ukraine as a sacred day, the day of the creation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The day of the final gaining of Ukrainian independence from Russia. And Ukraine will no longer drink, as Taras Shevchenko said, ‘Moscow’s poison from Moscow’s bowl.’
This is the day of the creation of the Church recognized by the world Orthodoxy as an independent structure – just as in the vast majority of countries belonging to the Orthodox Christian tradition.
All representatives, the autocephalous council of the UOC-Kyivan Patriarchate, the cathedral and all the hierarchs of the UAOC, a group of bishops of the UOC-Moscow Patriarchate have just founded the united Church.
This miracle came true due to the steadfast position of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, our Constantinople Mother Church. It took advantage of the unconditional canonical right to heal the wounds inflicted on the Ukrainian Orthodoxy by several centuries of Moscow’ domination. […]
We are now creating an independent Ukraine. And this event is as important as the referendum on our independence adopted more than 27 years ago. […]
Today is a common holiday of the Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims. In short, for all who value the freedom of Ukraine. Who value our independence. No patriot doubts the importance of having an independent Orthodox church in an independent Ukrainian state. Such a church is a spiritual guarantor of our sovereignty. In December 1991, at the referendum, we approved the Declaration of Independence. In December 2018, an independent Orthodox Ukrainian Church was founded, to which the Ecumenical Patriarch will hand over the Tomos. […]
The power of our people is in unity. God, give us the unity! There is such a prayer and it is very relevant to today’s events. Unity is what will give us victory.
Fellow Ukrainians! I sincerely congratulate you on the autocephaly and the achievement of our spiritual independence. We have stopped the aggressor. We have saved the state. We have built a capable army. We affirm the Ukrainian language as a component of the strength and success of our people.
Over this year, we have become even more convinced that the Autocephalous Church is the key to independence. The state language is the key to unity. A strong army is the key to peace.
We will certainly win!
Glory to God and Glory to Ukraine!”
A transcript of President Poroshenko’s full address is available