In Ukraine, this year’s celebrations for the Orthodox Christmas on January 7 assumed a whole new meaning, as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has now gained its religious independence – or autocephaly – from the Moscow Patriarchate.
The official decree, called Tomos, was signed two days prior in Saint George’s Cathedral in Istanbul, in the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual head of the Orthodox Christians, and of the Metropolitan Epifaniy, the new head of the Ukrainian Church.
The document officially places Ukraine under the canonical jurisdiction of Constantinople. The signing of the Tomos completes a process of recognition that started with the endorsement of Ukraine’s request for autocephaly by the Constantinople Patriarchate in October 2018. However, the historical occasion carries much more than a religious significance.