Russian Church breaks relations with Constantinople

Russian Church breaks relations with Constantinople”

The Russian Orthodox Church said on Saturday it would respond firmly to the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate over its decision to back Ukraine's request to establish an independent, or "autocephalous", Church.

The rift between the two Orthodox churches is expected to affect all patriarchates and churches, which will be called, in due time, to clarify their own positions on the issue.

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill chairs a meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018.

"A decision has been made to rupture full communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate", he said, meaning that priests from the two churches can not serve together while worshippers of one can not take communion in the other.

Before now, Moscow and other Orthodox patriarchates would send representatives to gatherings organized by Constantinople, including the decades-long preparations for the monumental 2016 Pan-Orthodox Council, Hilarion said.

The schism is the most significant Orthodox Christianity has experienced since it split from Catholicism nearly a thousand years ago.

Ecumenical Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill conduct Sunday service in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey July 5, 2009.

The Moscow Patriarchate, however, has denounced the Ukrainian church's recognition as provoking a split comparable to the so-called "Great Schism" of 1054, when Christianity separated into western and eastern churches.

The long-running dispute has worsened since 2014 when Russian Federation annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and gave support to pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In a major religious split, the Russian Orthodox Church has cut ties with the body seen as the spiritual authority of the world's Orthodox Christians.

We now stand before a new church reality: we no longer have a single coordinating center in the Orthodox Church and we must very clearly recognize that.

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

The Russian Orthodox Church expects Poroshenko to make good on his pledge that the Ukrainian government would ensure respect for the choices of those who want to retain unity with the Russian church. A matter of our national security.

However, the Russian Orthodox Church also said it hoped Constantinople would change its mind so that a schism could be avoided. "It's an issue of Ukrainian statehood", he said.

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.

But the mood has been different on social media, where many have no sympathy for the Russian Orthodox Church.

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