Ukraine-Russian Orthodox church rift extends to Germany

'May Become Catastrophic': Serbian Patriarch on Constantinople Ukraine Decision

The Russian Orthodox Church's decision to sever ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople will affect ecumenical dialogue, but long-term implications remain unknown. Russian Orthodox Christians will no longer be able to take communion or participate in other sacraments at churches within the Constantinople Patriarchate's jurisdiction.

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. "We can not be in communication with this church", he said.

But none of these activities is likely to restrain Bartholemew from taking the next step and extending a tomos of self-government to an independent Ukrainian Church. The patriarch - now Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople - has always been recognized as first among equals, with the authority to organize pan-Orthodox activities like global dialogue with the Catholics. The Orthodox Church split from the Catholic Church in 1054.

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"The Church that recognized schismatics [ie Filaret of Kiev - ed], and has restored relations with them, has excluded itself from the canonical scope of the Orthodox Church", concluded Ilarion.

Arriving in Minsk on October 13, Kirill told reporters, "I hope the Orthodox Church will find the strength to overcome hardships...to stay united". Some people believe some of that church's bishops would go to the independent churches, Father Roberson said, adding, "That's pure speculation at this point". The official title of Patriarch Bartholomew is Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch. He called the Constantinople Patriarchate's decision of 11 October "a great victory for the devout Ukrainian nation over the Moscow demons, a victory of good over evil, light over darkness".

Ukraine became independent of Russian Federation in 1991, but Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the fighting in eastern Ukraine have poisoned relations. In Ukraine, Moscow can organize provocations in an attempt to cast blame on the Ukrainians; but Kyiv is prepared for that and has warned the world that this is, in fact, what the Russians are up to.

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During a visit to Minsk on Saturday Russia's Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, said: "We are aware of how hard the current situation in the brotherly land of Ukraine is", he said. "It's an issue of Ukrainian statehood".

These developments marked a rift between the two major Churches of Orthodox Christianity.

"Russia's use of culture in foreign policy is very important - the sense of identity, of being part of a bigger Orthodox world".

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Constantinople had previously rejected the Ukrainian Church's independence moves, however, changed its decision last week.

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