Metropolitan Hilarion, Chairman of external relations department of the Moscow Patriarchate and permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, speaks during a news conference in Minsk, Belarus October 15, 2018.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate has said it has no desire to be independent from Moscow.
The split is a show of force by Russian Federation after the Ukrainian church was granted independence. The patriarch - now Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople - has always been recognized as first among equals, with the authority to organize pan-Orthodox activities like worldwide dialogue with the Catholics.
According to the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Press Service, Yevstratiy claimed that Orthodox Christians must choose whether to follow the Russian Orthodox "into schism" or "remain in unity with the Ecumenical Patriarch (Bartholomew I of Constantinople) through the Local Ukrainian Church". And it is now backing the creation of a new unified Orthodox Church based in Kiev.
The Orthodox Church in Ukraine has been under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church since the late 1600s. On Sunday, he said any believer would "choose his own path to God", but added it was "an issue of Ukrainian independence". Our archbishops and priests will not be able to participate in liturgies together with priests belonging to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Constantinople also canceled a 17th century document regarding the Russian Church's jurisdiction over Ukraine. They say that is what he did when he granted canonical recognition to two independent Ukrainian Orthodox churches.
And it reversed the excommunication (anathema) by the Russian Church of two top Ukrainian clerics, who lead the until now unrecognised churches in Ukraine.
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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.
Ukrainian government troops remain in a tense stand-off in the east and Russian rule in Crimea, unrecognised internationally, has triggered wide-ranging sanctions against Moscow.
"It's an issue of Ukrainian independence".
The Russian church's breakaway is therefore a major upheaval for global Orthodoxy.
Stevo Vucinic, vice-president of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church metropolis' council, welcomed the decision by Constantinople as of "historical importance" and slammed what he called a "political dispute" led by Moscow and Belgrade. "If the Russians are missing, that is something like half of the faithful in the Orthodox world, which is very significant".
On Thursday, a synod meeting of Bartholomew I chose to move towards granting Ukrainian ecclesiastical independence.