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Moscow patriarch comments on decision to lift anathema against Ukrainian church leaders

October 11, 21:07 UTC+3

On October 11, The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has announced the decision to lift the anathema against leaders of two extracanonical churches in Ukraine

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© Dmitry Serebryakov/TASS

MOSCOW, October 11. /TASS/. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, which decided to lift the anathema introduced by the Moscow Patriarchate against extracanonical churches in Ukraine, is legalizing the schism, and this will lead to irreparable consequences for global Orthodoxy, a spokesperson for the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow said.

"This legalizes the schism. With its actions, Constantinople is crossing a red line, and catastrophically undermines the unity of global Orthodoxy," he said.

On October 11, The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has announced the decision to lift the anathema against leaders of two extracanonical churches in Ukraine - Filaret of the Kiev Patriarchate and Makariy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, a representative of the patriarchate informed on the outcomes of the Holy Synod, which took place on October 9-11.

Autocephaly debate

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 providing 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.

Currently, 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.

The Ukrainian authorities have tried to create a Local Orthodox Church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate on numerous occasions since 1991.

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