Ukraine's leader: Orthodox faithful to get religious freedom

Ukraine's leader: Orthodox faithful to get religious freedom
A view of the 1000-year old Monastery of Caves in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. The Ukrainian intelligence agency is searching the home of the father superior of Kiev's biggest and oldest monastery which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president has promised Orthodox parishioners that they will be free to choose their affiliation after the creation of the new autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Amid deteriorating ties with Moscow, Kiev has been pushing for the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox church, free of control from the Moscow Patriarchate. That would be a momentous step, splitting the world’s largest Eastern Orthodox denomination and severely eroding the power and prestige of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Saturday night “the state guarantees the constitutional right to freedom of religion, including for those who want to remain united with the Russian Orthodox Church.”

The Russian Orthodox Church said Sunday, however, that more than 20 priests in Ukraine have been summoned for questioning by the country’s SBU security service.