• Schism of Orthodoxy in Ukraine deepens as Constantinople greenlights independent church

    There are three organizations in Ukraine that call themselves Orthodox churches, but only one of them is recognized as canonical by other Orthodox churches of the world – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. As the name implies, it’s a largely autonomous church, which nevertheless answers to the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The Patriarchate of Constantinople reportedly intends to unilaterally declare recognition of a separate canonical church in Ukraine, although details of such an action are yet to be clarified. The conclave of its Synod took some decisions furthering such a policy, which the Church in Moscow considers destructive and could potentially cause violence in Ukraine.

    Among the decisions taken on Thursday was to revoke the legally binding status of a 1686 letter, in which Constantinople acknowledged the right of the Russian Orthodox Church to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv after his election by clerics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Synod also decided to re-establish the office of the Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kyiv, but did not explain how this office would be filled.

    The Constantinople Patriarchate also decided to canonically reinstate two leaders of schismatic Orthodox churches in Ukraine, Filaret Denisenko and Makariy Maletych, as well as their followers. Both are considered unfit to be Orthodox clerics by Moscow after they defected from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

    The announcement by Constantinople was criticized by the Russian Orthodox Church, which called it the “legalization of the schism.”

    “The actions of Constantinople cross the red line and deal a catastrophic blow to the unity of the global Orthodoxy,” said Aleksandr Volkov, spokesman for Patriarch Kirill, the head of the church.

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