Russian Federation vows tough response to Ecumenical Patriachate over Ukraine

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

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The rift was provoked by Constantinople's decision to officially recognize two previously unrecognized breakaway branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which were seeking independence from the Moscow Patriarchate by "canonically reinstating" their leaders to "to their hierarchical or priestly rank" and restoring their communion with the Church.

Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej called the Constantinople Patriarchate's decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a catastrophic move.

The Synod's decision reads that the Russian Orthodox Church will not perform the decision of Constantinople for cancellation of instrument of transfer of the Kyiv Metropolitanate to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1686.

According to the USA 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".

The religious split comes amid deep political tensions, with Ukraine opposing Russia's 2014 annexation of its Crimea peninsula and fighting a Moscow-backed uprising in its east in which more than 10,000 people have been killed.

According to the decision, priests from the two churches can not serve and worshippers can not take communion together.

The newspaper said the split between the Constantinople and Moscow Churches - the highest-status and largest Orthodox Churches respectively - followed on from the two greatest upheavals in Christian Church history.

The split is a show of force by Russian Federation after the Ukrainian church was granted independence.

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The various Orthodox churches are already divided on the issue.

President Poroshenko accuses the Kremlin of trying to foment a religious war, and he has warned that Russian agents could try to seize church property.

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.

Following Constantinople's decision, the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church, ruled that any further clerical relations with Constantinople are impossible.

"As long as the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to make anti-canonical decisions, we will not be able to communicate with this Church, which is in a dissent today", he added.

"The church that acknowledged the schismatics has excluded itself from the canonical field of Orthodoxy". In addition, the Synod made a decision to re-establish the office of the Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kiev, which means its head would be subordinate directly to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. However, Russians rarely go on holiday there, Yakimchuk stressed.

Monday will enter Orthodox history as "one of its darkest days", wrote Izvestia.

The front-page article referenced the Protestant Reformation of 1517 and the schism between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches in 1054. And it is now backing the creation of a new unified Orthodox Church based in Kiev.

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