Russian Orthodox Church 'rupturing' ties with the Constantinople over Ukraine split

Russian Orthodox Church 'rupturing' ties with the Constantinople over Ukraine split

Last week, the Constantinople Synod chose to grant independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and lift anathema from the leaders of two non-canonical churches, excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church for their "schism". Meanwhile, it did not hesitate to seize Moscow Patriarchate's churches by force.

Similar statements were made after the September synaxis when Moscow said that it would limit diplomatic and ecclesiastical ties with Istanbul, including mentioning the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's name during divine liturgy as is customary.

The Russian Orthodox Church said Monday it is breaking ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate over its decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which Moscow does not recognise. "We can not be in communication with this church", he said.

"A decision has been made to rupture full communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate", which means priests from the two churches can not serve and worshippers can not take communion together, Hilarion, the bishop in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church's diplomacy, told journalists in Minsk. When Eucharistic communion is suspended, the patriarchs from the quarreling churches typically stop mentioning each other in prayer, though the Russian Orthodox Church implemented this measure before the final split: Patriarch Kirill already hasn't mentioned Patriarch Bartholomew for a month.

"Today our church is facing a great temptation". Yakimchuk also said that clergy will face disciplinary punishment for failing to observe the new prohibitions, and laypeople will be asked to confess and repent to disobeying the church. Patriarch Kirill's press secretary, priest Alexander Volkov, has pointed out that Mount Athos is in the Moscow Patriarchate's jurisdiction "with all the same consequences".

Constantinople had previously rejected the Ukrainian Church's independence moves, but chose to endorse them last week.

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This isn't the first time the Russian Orthodox Church has suspended relations with the Constantinople Patriarchate.

And it reversed the excommunication (anathema) by the Russian Church of two top Ukrainian clerics, who lead the until now unrecognised churches in Ukraine.

How has Ukraine reacted to Constantinople's move?

. The biggest canonical Orthodox church in Ukraine is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

President Petro Poroshenko said the Church's independence went hand-in-hand with Ukrainian independence, adding: "It's an issue of Ukrainian national security".

He said that up to a 10 Moscow Patriarchate parishes in Ukraine have switched over to the Kyiv Patriarchate since 2014 when Moscow invaded the easternmost regions of Luhansk and Donetsk after taking over the Crimea in a war that has killed more than 10,400 people and displace an additional 1.6 million. The Ecumenical Patriarchate also reinstated head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Philarchate Filaret and head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Makariy in their canonical status.

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