Russian Patriarch continues trip to Western Ukraine after delay
ROVNO, Ukraine, August 3 (Itar-Tass) Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill continues his pastoral visit to Ukraine after a change of the route that was recommended by the Ukrainian authorities Sunday.
Monday, he is expected to lead a liturgy in the Holy Trinity Convent in the town of Korets, Rovno region.
His Holiness Kirill's West-Ukrainian itinerary was to begin in the city of Rovno where he was supposed to fly from Sevastopol, the Crimea, Sunday afternoon. However, the Ukrainian authorities issued a strong recommendation to him to stay away from visiting Rovno, saying they could not guarantee his security there.
Rovno is known to be one of the dissenting Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to Kiev Patriarchate, which aspires to the status of Ukraine's only canonical national Orthodox denomination but is not recognized as a legitimate Church by the global Eastern Orthodox community.
The jet carrying Patriarch Kirill and the attending delegation landed in Kiev instead. From there, an automobile escort took His Holiness and delegation members to the Holy Trinity convent that has the status of a stauropegeon a monastic organization or community reporting directly to the supreme hierarch of a Church, or the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia in this case.
His Holiness Kirill visited this cloister in 1990 together with his predecessor in the office, the late Patriarch Alexy II who granted the stauropegeon status to the Korets convent 20 years ago.
"Patriarch Kirill regrets the fact that he could not come to Rovno but he hopes that his willingness to meet the clerics and laymen in that city will materialize some time in the future," said the Most Reverend Hillarion, the chairman of Moscow Patriarchate's department for external relations.
Nothing has been reported so far about any other possible changes in the itinerary. His Holiness plans to spend three days in the Western regions of Ukraine, to visit the cities of Lutsk and Vladimir Volynsky and to end this visit in the town of Pochayevo, the place where one of the most famous monasteries of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church is located.
The religious rift in Ukraine is particularly strongly felt in the Western regions that are known for especially high religiosity typical of all the denominations present here, as well as for a tense standoff between the disciples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to Moscow Patriarchate, on the one hand, and various dissenting factions of Eastern Orthodoxy and non-Orthodox denominations, on the other.
Patriarch Kirill will not visit the nationalistically-minded regions where the popular hostility towards the canonical Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy in general is especially high.