The Church of Greece decided on Saturday to recognize the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), making it the first of the Eastern Orthodox churches to take such a step.
Formal recognition will take place on October 19 in Thessaloniki, with Archbishop Ieronymos and the OCU’s Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine present.
“I am grateful to my Brother in Christ, His Beatitude Ieronymos, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, President of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, and Brother Hierarchs of the Council of Hierarchs, for today determining to support and follow the canonical and historical decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, opening the possibility of full interaction between our two Local Autocephalous Churches in all spheres,” Epiphanius wrote on Facebook.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople, the spiritual headquarters for Orthodoxy, granted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine independence in January in a move that was adamantly resisted by Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church has since cut off relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate since it delivered the so-called tomos of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The new Orthodox Church of Ukraine installed its first metropolitan, Epiphanius, at a ceremony in Kyiv on February 3 in a process that further established the new church body’s independence.
But recognition has not followed from other Orthodox churches — until now. Supporters hope the Greek move could give impetus to other Orthodox churches that have been balking at such a step.