The St. Andrew's Church in Kyiv could be transferred for the permanent use to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko proposed this initiative and his argumentation is that it would be a symbolic gesture.
The idea was announced today during the conciliation board of the Verkhovna Rada by the Poroshenko’s representative in the parliament Iryna Lutsenko.
"The president supports the aspiration to receive Tomos as soon as possible, and as the sign of solidarity with this process he makes a symbolic gesture. The bill, by which President Poroshenko proposes to transfer the St. Andrew's Church to the permanent use of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a reminder that St. Andrew once baptized Ukraine, will be a symbolic gesture of unity with the Mother-Church," she said.
Now several questions appear at once. We will start from the most important thing.
Is it even possible?
It appears so and here is why.
The St. Andrew's Church today is the "refuge" of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Here they hold the daily liturgies, worshipping, and all the spectrum of actions.
However, this church does not belong to Autocephalous Church.
St. Andrew's Church belongs to the state and is part of the National Sanctuary "Sophia of Kyiv". Thus, the issue on the transfer of the church is in the competence of the Verkhovna Rada.
In addition, not only St. Andrew's Church is in such a situation.
The objects of national importance, such as, for example, the Kyiv Pechersk and Pochayiv Lavra, are also state-owned.
So what does "transfer to the Ecumenical Patriarchate" mean?
Well, of course, the Patriarch Bartholomew will not move to Kyiv and will not make the St. Andrew's Church his residence (he seems to be doing well enough where he is).
Although this is what the president of Ukraine says about the reasons for this decision:
"So that the Mother Church and Ecumenical Patriarch have a church, where he will be able to pray, where the worships of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will take place. It was agreed upon with the church bishops, this decision was approved, and I am going to initiate this issue in the parliament and firmly count on the full support, which will accelerate the acquirement of Tomos. I think this should happen soon. "
Most likely, it will be a kind of "embassy" of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine. Alternatively, it will be similar to the usage of the church by the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church.
Here, it is worth to return to five days ago and pay attention to one of the decisions of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Ukraine, namely, to the restoration of stauropegion:
"To reestablish, at this moment, the Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kyiv, one of its many Stavropegia in Ukraine that existed there always."
Stauropigia is a status given to Orthodox monasteries, lavras, fraternities, cathedrals, spiritual schools, etc. It means independence from local diocesan authorities and accountability directly to the patriarch or synod.
Now, some additional information:
Some facts about the St. Andrew’s Church
- It is an Orthodox Church built in honor of Andrew the Apostle.
- It was built in 1754 on the project of the architect Barotolemeo Rastrelli in the Baroque style.
- Situated on the right bank of the Dnipro River in the Podil neighborhood of Kyiv.
- Since 1949, there has been the Kyiv Theological Seminary in the stylobate of the church. The seminary was eventually closed in 1960.
- After the closure of the seminary, the church was also closed. In 1968 it was opened to visitors.
- In 2008, the St. Andrew's Church became a place of worship of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
It depends on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who has so far not reacted to the decision of the Russian Orthodox Church to breach relations with them.
In addition, it is first necessary to wait for the bill, where everything will be described in more detail.