Ecumenical Patriarchate grants autocephaly to Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Filaret and Petro Poroshenko

Russian Federation opposes any steps that lead to a split in Orthodox Christianity, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday, when asked about Ukraine's bid to establish an independent church outside Moscow's control.

The move could benefit Poroshenko in next year's elections.

The Russian church, the world's largest Orthodox grouping, was furious.

The Patriarchate of Moscow, which is strongly backed by the Kremlin, argues it technically oversees most of Ukraine's Orthodox parishes and has warned that independence would provoke a rift in global Orthodoxy.

Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, conducts a service at the Volodymysky Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.

Patriarch Filaret explained that those Ukrainian dioceses that do not join the united Ukrainian Orthodox Church "will not have the right to be called the "Ukrainian Church".

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The decision was reached during a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and published on the Patriarchate's website.

Stavropegia are subordinated directly to the Patriarchate, rather than to a local bishop.

"Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church", it said.

Bartholomew I, a Turkish citizen of Greek origin who commands huge worldwide respect for promoting inter-faith dialogue, will also not want to antagonise the Turkish authorities who are pressing a policy of a strong alliance with Russian Federation.

Recognition of a Ukrainian church that is not under Moscow's jurisdiction has been an increasingly fraught issue amid the high tensions over Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

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