US puts pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew on SLC issue in Ukraine, – media

Head of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew

Work is being done with the Patriarch of Constantinople to convince him to support autocephaly in Ukraine, and this time at a higher level than two years ago.

The USA has joined in the efforts to put pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew, report sources in diplomatic and religious circles to Strana.ua.

According to the Internet-newspaper, firstly, the US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has met with the head of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who earlier opposed the creation of a Single Local Church, but now has changed his position.

Secondly, on Saturday, April 14, the ambassador of the US State Department for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback arrived in Turkey. The official reason for his visit is an attempt to release the American pastor-evangelist Andrew Brunson from prison, whom Ankara accuses of the collaboration with preacher Fethullah Gulen and participation in the attempt of coup d'état. However, during this meeting, Brownback visited the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Thirdly, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Payette, visited Athos, and after the meeting announced that he had discussed "important questions of Orthodoxy around the world" with the priests of Athos monasteries.

Fourthly, according to the sources of the Internet resource, both Americans and Ukrainian authorities are working with the head of the UOC KP Filaret, who is being persuaded to leave.

The source of the publication claims that it is the figure of Filaret (Denisenko) that is an obstacle for the part of the episcopate of the UOC to support autocephaly. "And without this, Bartholomew is unlikely to react at all to the appeal. That's why Filaret is being persuaded from different sides, including by our American partners, to make a statement that he does not pretend to be the head of the local church. Someone from the UOC will be considered for this post. Although even all these actions do not guarantee that Bartholomew will give a positive answer. The probability of this is still low. But if Filaret does not leave, it will be completely equal to zero," says the source.

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