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Russian patriarch likens Kiev for Russian Orthodoxy to Jerusalem for global Christianity

January 31, 15:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Constantinople's decision to lift the anathemas against some representatives of the Ukrainian schismatic churches contradicts all ecclesiastical canons, said the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church

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© Pyotr Sivkov/TASS

MOSCOW, January 31. /TASS/. Orthodoxy in Russia began with its Christianization by Prince Vladimir in Kiev, so for Russian believers that city is comparable in terms of its historic importance to the significance of Jerusalem for world Christianity, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said at a meeting with delegations of Local Orthodox Churches that arrived in Moscow on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his enthronement.

"Ukraine is not on the periphery of our church. We call Kiev ‘the mother of all Russian cities.' For us Kiev is what Jerusalem is for many. Russian Orthodoxy began there, so under no circumstances can we abandon this historical and spiritual relationship. The whole unity of our Local Church is based on these spiritual ties," he said.

According to the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Constantinople Patriarchate’s decision to lift the anathemas against some representatives of the Ukrainian schismatic churches contradicts all ecclesiastical canons. "I say with profound sorrow that the Patriarchate of Constantinople entered into communion with Ukrainian schismatics, including former Metropolitan Filaret anathemized by the Russian Church, without their repentance. That violates the fundamental principles of canonical communion between our churches," the patriarch stressed.

Church standoff in Ukraine

Ukraine’s current leadership has sought to create a local Orthodox church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate in the country since it came to power after the 2014 coup. Last April, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko sent a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople requesting autocephaly for the Ukrainian church. The Poroshenko regime cobbled together a "unification council" that was held in Kiev on December 15, which announced the creation of a new church, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Tomos of Autocephaly (a clerical decree on establishing an independent church) was handed over to its head, Metropolitan Epiphany, on January 6. Both the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church consider the newly-established ecclesiastical institution to be schismatic.

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