Victor Yushchenko held a meeting with Metropolitan Volodymyr and bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, president’s press office reported.

They spoke about religious issues. The President said he wanted to strengthen ties between the state and the church.

“When we speak about this relationship, I see us as partners,” he said.

Speaking about confessional relations, Yushchenko said the creation of a Single Orthodox Church in Ukraine was the best way to bridge the current schism. He believes it would help make Ukraine stronger.

“I see these problems as equivalent or, at least, interrelated,” he said, expressing confidence the creation of such a church was a “goal every religious leader and believer dreams of.” “I am convinced we all understand it will happen one day.” 

Yushchenko regrets there is so much speculation and misunderstanding on the issue. He said this idea “was not against somebody but aimed at uniting Ukrainians that are spiritually committed to the idea of a united Ukraine.

The President admitted, however, there were many “obstacles and dangers.” He said it was impossible to fulfill the idea without “changing their policy of mutual assaults to policy of coexistence and tolerance.”

He said believers should choose this path without the government’s help.  

“This dialogue belongs to churches and believers, but the state can be a party that will not create artificial barriers but a tolerant atmosphere.”

The President and the bishops also addressed other problems facing the Orthodox Church, such as property issues.


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