Fears of further Orthodox Church rifts after Russia-Constantinople split

Eastern Orthodox Breach: Russian Orthodox Church Splits From Constantinople

The Russian Orthodox Church condemned the move and on Monday announced it is breaking ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate in protest. "And we clearly understand the threats that exist in this connection", Poroshenko said at a conference on the implementation of a program to build housing for soldiers in Starychi in Lviv region on October 16.

After the Ecumenical Patriarchate made its historic decision granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and describing the Russian Orthodox Church's encroachment on the Ukrainian Church as illegitimate, "the so-called Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church held a session yesterday", he said.

"They demonstrated yet again that they are under the direct and immediate influence of the Kremlin, the Federal Security Service", Poroshenko said.

The drive for Ukrainian Orthodox independence intensified in 2014, when Russian Federation annexed Crimea and Russia-backed separatists seized a big swathe of territory in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, said the religious move marks an "apogee of Ukrainian sovereignty" and "an end to Ukraine's colonized relationship with Russian Federation".

Speaking in Belarus after a meeting of the Russian Church's ruling body, Metropolitan Ilarion, a cleric, said the Holy Synod had been left with no choice but to sever ties with the Patriarchate in Istanbul, seat of the global spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians.

"I see the latest announcement of the Holy Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate as a move leading to schism, and.it directly and unequivocally opens up the possibility - nearly emphasizes - new breakthroughs for other churches", the Serbian Patriarch told Vecernje Novosti daily. He continues the procedure of granting of the Tomos of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest and the most influential of all modern Orthodox Churches as the number of its followers amounts to between 90 and 120 million.

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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 on October 15, 2018. It was previously rented by one of the branches of Ukraine's split Orthodox Church.

Russian media including government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote with regret that Russians will no longer be able to go to pray at Mount Athos in Greece, an important destination for pilgrims and tourists that is under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which claims traditional and canonical authority over the Orthodox community in Ukraine, has denied taking political sides in the conflict and said it has worked for peace in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Church, meanwhile, has other problems, besides Ukraine, in Moldova. From now on it will also boycott joint Orthodox Church ceremonies.

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.

"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.

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