Published: Tue, October 16, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Russian Orthodox Church 'rupturing' ties with the Constantinople over Ukraine split

Russian Orthodox Church 'rupturing' ties with the Constantinople over Ukraine split

In response, the Kyiv Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church called the Russian Orthodox Church's move "self-isolation in retaliation for legal decisions by the world community".

At a synod in Belarus on Monday, Russian Orthodox Church leaders said the church was cutting ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the seat of the global spiritual leader for 300 million Orthodox worshippers.

The row is being described as the greatest Orthodox split since the schism with Catholicism in 1054.

Russia sees Kiev as the historic cradle of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church now fears losing many of its 12,000 parishes in Ukraine.

Many monks of the Russian Orthodox Church live and work in important monasteries under Constantinople, notably on Mount Athos in Greece, and many Orthodox sites in Greece and Cyprus are important pilgrimage centers for Russian Orthodox believers.

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.

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This means that priests from the two patriarchates can not serve - and worshippers can not take communion - together, wherever Orthodox Christianity is practised.

Ilarion told journalists that the synod - the Russian Orthodox Church's decision-making body - was left with no choice but to sever ties with the patriarchate based in Istanbul.

The Serbian patriarch pointed out that the move was unprecedented for the Orthodox Church.

The Russian church voiced concern that the Istanbul-based patriarchate's action would deepen the religious rift in Ukraine and could spur the schismatic branches to try to take over church buildings. A matter of our national security.

Metropolitan Ilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate's head of external relations, on Tuesday said that in doing so the Constantinople Patriarchate had destroyed its authority and that the Orthodox Church no longer had a single center.

Moscow's conflict with Constantinople is thanks entirely to Ukraine.

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Hilarion said the decision by Constantinople to pronounce the entirety of Ukrainian churches as independent from Moscow "goes against historical truth" as the Kievan Metropolis of the 17th century corresponded to a different geographical area. "It's an issue of Ukrainian statehood", he said.

The rupture on Monday came after the Istanbul-based clerics ruled to grant independence to the Ukrainian Church, a move Russian Federation has long campaigned against.

Ukraine became independent in 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but Russia's support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine has poisoned relations with its neighbour.

A talk show on the Rossiya1 warned that "radicals" may start seizing churches as soon as Moscow's control weakened.

Another pro-government paper, Izvestiya, spoke of "one of the darkest days in the history of Orthodoxy".

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