The delegation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, headed by Archbishop Hilarion of Rivne, visited Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
This pilgrimage visit of the Ukrainian Orthodox was meant to pay respects to Saint Euphemia, who in a miraculous way led the Holy Fathers to the proper decision, which were taken during the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. In addition to dogmatic definitions, the Council of Chalcedon decided that the Archbishop of Constantinople had the responsibility to hear appeals filed either by the clergy or the lay persons from every Church, and established his extraterritorial jurisdiction and responsibility.
At the official hearing of the delegation, which took place on July 12, Archbishop Hilarion of Rivne expressed the gratitude of the Autocephalous Church and the Ukrainian people to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and their love to the Ecumenical Patriarch.
“We came here to pay respects to St. Euphemia for her miracle and our filial love for the Ecumenical Patriarch. We believe that the day that the Church celebrates the miracle of St. Euphemia is also a feast for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” said, Archbishop Hilarion.
The Ecumenical Patriarch warmly welcomed Archbishop Hilarion and the delegation, as well as the Consul General of Ukraine in Constantinople Oleksandr Gaman, who attended the meeting, and said that it was blessing that the Ecumenical Patriarchate preserved the holy relic of Saint Euphemia.
Referring to the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine, he stressed that we simply “did our bit, as the Mother Church of Constantinople, to the Ukrainian people, no more and no less.” As he pointed out, “you received what was yours, and we gave you what we had the right and the duty, as the Mother Church of Constantinople, to give you.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch added that the new status would have been accepted by all other sister Churches if there were no political expediencies and pressures against this action.
“Sooner or later, the recognition of your Autocephalous Church will come, and the first sister Church to do so will be the Church of Greece.” He stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will send an official delegation, led by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, to celebrate the commemoration of Saint Vladimir and the anniversary of Baptism of Rus’ on July 28. The delegation will bring a fragment of the relic of St. Andrew.
Then the Patriarch pointed out that the sacred historical ties between Constantinople and Kiev “were strengthened quite recently through the decision of the Holy Synod of our Patriarchate to canonise your great compatriot, Saint Luke of Simferopol.”
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Veria spoke about St. Luke the Physician, Archbishop of Simferopol, his life and miracles attributed to him, and the great respect and reverence with which the faithful of his Metropolis paid their respects to him.