Man dressed in gold (© Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)
The newly elected head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy, celebrates Divine Liturgy at St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine, in December 2018. (© Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

The United States congratulates the Orthodox Church of Ukraine for receiving its full independence.

The church now officially joins the community of more than a dozen recognized independent Orthodox churches.

“On this momentous occasion, the United States reiterates its unwavering support for a sovereign, independent Ukraine,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on January 10. “The United States maintains its strong support for religious freedom, including the freedom for members of religious groups to govern their religion according to their beliefs, without external interference.”

People in embroidered robes and hats standing in lines (© Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)
Metropolitan Epifaniy takes part in services with other clergy members at St. Michael’s in Kyiv, Ukraine, December 16, 2018. (© Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

“We welcome remarks by Metropolitan Epifaniy that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is open to all Orthodox believers,” said Pompeo, “and encourage government and Church officials to promote tolerance and respect for the freedom of members of all religious affiliations to worship as they choose.”