Key Ukrainian church gathering slated for next week

Key Ukrainian church gathering slated for next week
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, second left, addresses Ukrainian soldiers as Canadian Army Lieutenant General Jean-Marc Lanthier stands at center, and commander of U.S. Army in Europe Christopher Cavoli stands right, during military drills in base Honcharivske, Chernihiv region, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. Ukraine’s president announced a partial call-up of reservists for training amid tensions with Russia, saying Monday that the country needs to beef up its defenses to counter the threat of a Russian invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says local Orthodox communities will gather for a summit next week that is expected to form a new, independent Ukrainian church.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based institution that serves as a center of the global Eastern Orthodox faith, has drafted a charter for an independent Ukrainian church. The move would separate the Ukrainian church from Russia after several centuries of unity.

Poroshenko, who has made an independent church one of the main slogans of his not-yet-announced re-election bid, said Wednesday that Orthodox communities would gather on Dec. 5 to adopt the charter of the new Ukrainian church and choose its leader. The newly formed community would then be expected to receive independence from Constantinople.