Russian Orthodox Church Breaks Ties With Constantinople Patriarchate

Russian Orthodox Church Breaks Ties With Constantinople Patriarchate

As well, the Ecumenical Patriarchate reserves the right to grant autocephaly, but Moscow is protesting that Constantinople is doing so unilaterally and infringing on Moscow's canonical territory.

Metropolitan Hilarion said the church's Holy Synod made a decision to "break the Eucharistic communion" with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate".

Ukraine now has three Orthodox communities - one answering to the Russian Orthodox Church and two schismatic churches.

The Constantinople Patriarchate is the "first among equals" among the heads of the several autocephalous churches that make up the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church has traditionally seen parishes in Ukraine as under its jurisdiction.

The row is being described as the greatest Orthodox split since the schism with Catholicism in 1054.

Ukrainian government troops remain in a tense stand-off in the east and Russian rule in Crimea, unrecognised internationally, has triggered wide-ranging sanctions against Moscow.

Kyiv, now the capital of Ukraine, is the site of the 988 baptism of Vladimir the Great, Grand Prince of Kiev, which resulted in the Christianization of Kyivan Rus', a state whose heritage Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus all claim.

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Paulist Father Ron Roberson, associate director of the US bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said the split reveals disagreements on some "pretty significant issues" among more than a dozen Orthodox churches.

The Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Church has denied being a tool of the Kremlin, and says it has tried to bring about peace in eastern Ukraine.

After the independence of Ukraine in 1991 and the fall of the soviet union, Filaret, a former hierarch of the Patriarchate of Moscow, has created a Ukrainian orthodox Church of which he is the self-proclaimed patriarch, which led to him being excommunicated.

The split marks a historic turning point for the global Orthodox community, but it is the result of the collapse in relations between Russian Federation and Ukraine of the past four years that followed Moscow's seizure of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent separatist war in eastern Ukraine, which is ongoing.

However, they won't be able to attend church services there if the Patriarchate of Jerusalem supports the stance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, he added. But today, they have far fewer levers than many seem to think either against Constantinople or Ukraine. "It's an issue of Ukrainian statehood". He also expressed concerns over potential developments in Ukraine, where the rift between the Churches might affect "millions of believers".

An influential Moscow cleric had earlier warned that parishioners would not hand over churches to a new Orthodox institution willingly.

Monday will enter Orthodox history as "one of its darkest days", wrote Izvestia.

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