'The United States strongly supports religious freedom, including the freedom of members of groups to govern their religion according to their beliefs and practice their faiths freely without government interference. The United States respects the ability of Ukraine’s Orthodox religious leaders and followers to pursue autocephaly according to their beliefs. We respect the Ecumenical Patriarch as a voice of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue', the statement says.
Besides, the U.S. authority once again reiterated that the White House still offers the 'unwavering support for Ukraine and its territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine and the Russian occupation of Crimea'.
Earlier, Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch, claimed he would not change his views on this matter. 'It is Ukraine's turn now to get the autocephaly. It is going to happen, since it is the church's right', he said. The Patriarch added it is the exclusive authority of the Ecumenical Partiarchate to allow the autocephaly to all Orthodox Churches, starting from Russia in the 16th century.
Reacting to the Patriarch's statement, the Synodus of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) asked him not to interfere with the internal affairs of the Church. The authority also asked the exarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate to leave Ukraine.