Ukraine church's historic split from Russian Federation granted by patriarch

Ukrinform

Upset at losing its Ukrainian parishes, the Russian Orthodox Church - which is the world's largest - has already cut ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the spiritual authority of the world's Orthodox church after it recognised the Ukrainian Church's independence.

"The pious Ukrainian people have awaited this blessed day for seven entire centuries", Bartholomew I said in his address. Ukrainians can now enjoy "the sacred gift of emancipation, independence and self-governance, becoming free from every external reliance and intervention", he added.

Poroshenko met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the ceremony.

The patriarch also entreated that the new church "strive for unity and peace" with clergy who remain under Moscow's orbit and help reconciliation to "help them understand that Ukraine deserves a united church body".

The Ukrainian church has been under the jurisdiction of the Moscow patriarchate since 1686, and its independence is a heavy blow to Moscow.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church's media relations, Vladimir Legoida, dismissed the Istanbul decree-signing ceremony.

"I want to thank the generations of Ukrainians who dreamed.and finally God sent us the Orthodox Church of Ukraine", he told the congregation in the crowded church.

Bartholomew I signs the Tomos of Autocephaly, marking the formal independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchal Church of St. George, in Istanbul.

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There will be many parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Ukraine, so the ROC will continue to exist, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epiphanius has said in an interview with the Ukrainian service of Deutsche Welle.

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

The Ukrainian church's new leader is Metropolitan Yepifaniy.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia devolved into hostilities in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and violent conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government.

He has been a long time critic of Moscow's religious influence in Ukraine.

Ukraine imposed martial law in November, citing the threat of a full-scale invasion after Russian Federation captured three of its vessels in the Kerch Strait, a narrow sea passage close to the Crimean peninsula that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Constantinople's recognition of an autonomous church is a boost to Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, who is facing a tough battle for re-election in March.

Now Moscow fears losing many of its 12,000 parishes in Ukraine.

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