Ukraine Orthodox leaders OK break with Russian church
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Orthodox leaders on Saturday approved the creation of a unified church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate and elected a leader to head the new church — a move that could raise tensions with neighboring Russia.
The vote, held at a synod in Kiev’s St. Sophia Cathedral, is the latest in a series of confrontations between Ukraine and authorities in Russia, including President Vladimir Putin’s government. Ahead of the vote, the Russian Orthodox Church called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect Orthodox believers in Ukraine.
The leader of the new Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be Metropolitan Epiphanius, 39, a bishop from the Kiev Patriarchate.