Russian Orthodox Church breaks ties with Orthodoxy’s leader

Mikhail Markiv  TASS

Mikhail Markiv TASS

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said he meant to grant a church in Ukraine full recognition, or autocephaly, removing it from control of the Russian Orthodox church in Moscow.

Russia's Orthodox church has reacted furiously to a decree last week by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, cancelling Moscow's jurisdiction over Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and lifting the excommunication of the country's breakaway Orthodox communities.

The Bishops' Conference of the Finnish Orthodox Church said the decision by Moscow was "unilateral, sad and very unfortunate" and hoped the patriarchs would resolve the conflict in mutual negotiations.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill walk during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018.

The Russian Orthodox believers will not be welcome to pray in the churches located in the holy peninsula of Athos, an autonomous republic ruled by monks.

The religious split comes amid deep political tensions, with Ukraine fighting a Moscow-backed uprising in its east.

"We have deep concerns about the situation in Ukraine", he added, referring to the attacks and forceful seizure of Orthodox churches belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate.

Russian Patriarch Kirill will visit four key cities in Moldova from October 25-28 as the Russian Orthodox Church seeks to maintain its spiritual patronage in the country after the Ukrainian church won independence from Moscow.

This is a matter of our independence. A matter of the entire global geopolitics. The Moscow Patriarchate also said that it would not abide by any decisions taken by Constantinople and related to the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church has announced it is cutting off all ties with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is viewed as the leading authority of the world's 300 million Orthodox worshippers. When Eucharistic communion is suspended, the patriarchs from the quarreling churches typically stop mentioning each other in prayer, though the Russian Orthodox Church implemented this measure before the final split: Patriarch Kirill already hasn't mentioned Patriarch Bartholomew for a month. These include: admitting into communion "schismatics", and "a person anathematized in another local Church", "encroachment on someone else's canonical regions", and "the attempt to abandon historical decisions and commitments". The Constantinople Patriarchate liquidated itself as such a center.

Father Roberson, who has written and updated "The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey", referred to a similar dispute in 1996 over the Orthodox in Estonia, a former Soviet Republic.

Now each of the branches of the Orthodox Church "will have to choose with whom to be - Constantinople or the Russian Orthodox Church", Izvestia wrote.

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