Published: Sun, January 06, 2019
World News | By Sandy Lane

Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks away from Russian influence

Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaks away from Russian influence

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Metropolitan Epifaniy, head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, were present at the event.

The spiritual head of Orthodox Christians worldwide formally granted independence to the Ukrainian church on Saturday, marking an historic split from Russian Federation which Ukrainian leaders see as vital to the country's security.

The ceremony formalized an October announcement to undo a connection that began in 1686.

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.

The move was largely boycotted by Ukraine's biggest church, which is loyal to Russian Federation.

Ukraine's churches have for centuries been under the authority of the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.

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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.

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

The tomos come one day before the celebration of Orthodox Christmas.

The historic document grants the Orthodox Church in Ukraine independence, or autocephaly, and ends more than 330 years of Russian religious control in Ukraine.

What is the dispute all about?

A fully-independent Ukrainian Orthodox Christian church has been decreed after a split with the Russian Orthodox church.

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The move is forcing Ukrainian clerics to pick sides between the Moscow-backed Ukrainian churches and the new church as fighting persists in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed rebels.

The independence decree will force Ukrainian clerics to pick sides between the Moscow-backed Ukrainian churches and the new church as fighting persists in eastern Ukraine between government forces and rebels backed by Russian Federation.

The Ukrainian president thanked Erdoğan for not interfering in the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate's decision to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox church in a press conference ahead of the meeting.

The row over independence for the Ukrainian church is seen as a proxy for political tensions between Moscow and Kiev.

Now, priests from the Kiev Patriarchate and the Autocephalous Church become members of the new Church - the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

The move has dealt a huge blow to Moscow's spiritual authority in the Orthodox world, prompting it to cut all ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate in protest.

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