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Local Orthodox Churches not backing Constantinople’s move, says key Russian bishop

October 10, 14:57 UTC+3 ASTANA

On October 9, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople began a three-day meeting, which is expected to decide on providing independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

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© Igor Yashkin/TASS

ASTANA, October 10. /TASS/. Local Orthodox Churches are not supporting the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople’s move to grant independence (autocephaly) to the Ukrainian Church, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk told reporters on Wednesday.

"Different responses are coming in. Some churches are openly speaking out in favor of convening a pan-Orthodox conference, while others have taken a pause. However, I have not seen a single statement from any local churches in support of Constantinople’s unilateral actions, which were announced and carried out (by Constantinople) without the consent of Local Orthodox Churches," His Eminence Hilarion stated when asked about the response by local churches to developments in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s autocephaly crisis

In April 2018, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko addressed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople with a request to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church.

On September 7, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, as part of preparations for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, appointed its exarchs (envoys) in Kiev, which is the Moscow Patriarchate’s canonical territory.

On September 23, Patriarch Bartholomew said during a Divine Liturgy in Istanbul that Ukraine has the right to obtain autocephalous status, while the Patriarchate of Constantinople has the sole right to provide autocephaly.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church responded by saying that Constantinople’s actions were a crude violation of church canons and stopped mentioning Patriarch Bartholomew during church services and conducting joint services with Bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

On October 9, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople began a three-day meeting, which is expected to decide on providing independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

At present, Ukraine has one canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is a self-governing church constituent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Also, there are two religious organizations not recognized by the Orthodox Christian world - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

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