Thursday, 21 March, 2019

Ukraine Orthodox Church granted independence from Russian Church

Patriarch Filaret head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Polish Orthodox Church Refuses to Recognize ‘New Church’ Set Up in Ukraine Sputnik Evgeny Kotenko
Leonard Rios | 08 January, 2019, 03:43

Poroshenko and the leader of the new Ukrainian church, Metropolitan Epifaniy, were also in attendance at Saturday's ceremony.

The Istanbul-based Orthodox patriarch on Sunday handed over a formal decree confirming the creation of an independent Ukrainian church to its leader, Metropolitan Yepifaniy.

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the new, independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, attend the ceremony of signing the decree of independence for the Ukrainian church.

"I want to thank the millions of Ukrainians around the world who responded to my appeal to pray for the church to be established", Poroshenko added in a speech at the ceremony.

The Istanbul-based Patriarch, Bartholomew I, signed the "Tomos" in Istanbul in front of clerics and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, forming the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

"The pious Ukrainian people have awaited this blessed day for seven entire centuries", Patriarch Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew, who is "first among equals" of Orthodox patriarchs, criticised Moscow's intention to break off relations as "a form of pressure and coercion in order to make others agree with one's opinions is unacceptable" in a homily last month. Now, nurturing the Orthodox Church of Ukraine remains part of his electoral campaign.

The decree opens the way for Ukraine's Orthodox Church to be recognised by other branches of orthodoxy and other churches.

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Vladimir Legoida, a spokesman for the Moscow church, denounced the decree as "a document that is the result of irrepressible political and personal ambitions", the AFP news agency reported.

It had been "signed in violation of the canons and therefore not possessing any canonical force", Legoida added in a statement.

The decision may the be beginning of a lasting schism in the global Orthodoxy and risks triggering conflicts among Ukraine's Orthodox believers, observers say.

He has been a long time critic of Moscow's religious influence in Ukraine. Moscow argues it has had legal authority over Ukrainian churches since 1686, according to the BBC.

Ukraine and Russian Federation have been at loggerheads since 2014 when Kiev street protests urging Ukrainian integration with Europe led to the ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.

Russian Federation long opposed such efforts by the Ukrainians for an independent church, which intensified after Russian Federation seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and began supporting separatists shortly thereafter in parts of Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Istanbul remained the centre of the Orthodox Church after the Muslim Ottoman Turks occupied the city, then known as Constantinople, in the 15th Century.

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