Ukrainians greet church split with open arms, despite Moscow’s warnings

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople decided this week to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Russian Orthodox Church. An RFE/RL piece states Ukrainians are generally responding positively to the decision to grant autocephaly to the church of Ukraine. However, a lot of work remains to be done — particularly unifying the competing orthodox churches in Ukraine — before independence is formally granted through a decree known as a “Tomos.” Likewise, the RFE/RL piece notes the Kremlin has issued a statement on the matter that is strikingly similar to rhetoric used prior to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and backing of separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said about the decision made in Istanbul on the Ukrainian church that Russia was prepared to “defend the interests of the Orthodox” as it does Russians and Russian speakers across the world in the face of any “illegal actions.”

 

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