Rift be­tween Pa­tri­ar­chate and Moscow deep­ens

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The Is­tan­bul-based Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate has granted self-rule, also known as au­to­cephaly, to the Ukrainian Ortho­dox Church, while Moscow has warned the move could lead to a split within the Ortho­dox Church.

The de­ci­sion was reached dur­ing a three-day meet­ing of the Holy Synod of the Greek Ortho­dox Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate and pub­lished on the Pa­tri­ar­chate’s web­site.

How­ever, a spokesman for Rus­sian Ortho­dox Pa­tri­arch Kir­ill said the Rus­sian Church will have to break eu­charis­ti­cal re­la­tions with the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate over the de­ci­sion.

Spokesman Alexan­der Volkov also de­nounced the de­ci­sion to re­ha­bil­i­tate Ukrainian Pa­tri­arch Fi­laret, who had been ex­com­mu­ni­cated by the Rus­sian Ortho­dox Church, say­ing it will have “ir­re­versible reper­cus­sions” for Or­tho­doxy around the world.

“With its act Con­stantino­ple has crossed red lines and is vi­o­lat­ing the unity of global Or­tho­doxy,” Volkov said, ac­cord­ing to the TASS news agency.

Fi­laret is a staunch sup­porter of an in­de­pen­dent Ukrainian church and is in fa­vor of Ukraine’s closer in­te­gra­tion with the West and a vo­cal critic of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. The synod, which was chaired by Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­arch Vartholo­maios – seen as the first among equals of Ortho­dox Church lead­ers – de­creed to “re­new the de­ci­sion al­ready made that the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate pro­ceed to the grant­ing of au­to­cephaly to the Church of Ukraine.”

It also de­creed to “re-es­tab­lish, at this mo­ment, the Stavrope­gion of the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­arch in Kyiv, one of its many Stavrope­gia in Ukraine that ex­isted there al­ways.” (Stavrope­gia are di­rectly sub­or­di­nate to the Pa­tri­ar­chate rather than a lo­cal bishop.)

The de­ci­sion is also ex­pected to gal­va­nize Ukraine’s pro-Western Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko ahead of an elec­tion race next year which is ex­pected to be tight.

“The de­ci­sions of the ec­u­meni­cal pa­tri­arch and synod fi­nally dis­pelled the im­pe­rial il­lu­sions and chau­vin­is­tic fan­tasies of Moscow,” Poroshenko said. “It is a ques­tion of our in­de­pen­dence, na­tional se­cu­rity, state­hood, a ques­tion of world geopol­i­tics.”

Mean­while, no de­ci­sion was made by the Synod as to whether 90-yearold Arch­bishop Demetrios of Amer­ica will step down from his post. His sup­port has dwin­dled af­ter it be­came known the arch­dio­cese was in se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial trou­ble.

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