Fears of further Orthodox Church rifts after Russia-Constantinople split

Lester Mason
October 19, 2018

Patriarch Kirill (C), head of the Russian Orthodox Church, chairs a meeting of the Holy Synod in Minsk, Belarus on October 15, 2018.

The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow has cut ties with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, claiming his recognition of an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine departed from Orthodox Christian norms.

Earlier, the leader of the Antioch Orthodox Church had said that the Eastern Orthodox Church needs unity instead of discussions on autocephaly.

Amfilohije's reaction reflects also a fear that Constantinople might now acknowledge another breakaway church, the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.

"We are hoping common sense will prevail and that the Constantinople Patriarchate will change its relations to existing Church reality", Metropolitan Hilarion said.

According to a rough estimate, there are about 30,000 Orthodox Christians in Tajikistan that makes 0,4% of the country's population. The Russian Church sees the move as an infringement of its jurisdiction and authority.

The US State Department has backed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew over his dispute with the Russian Orthodox Church following his decision to grant independence to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The Synod revoked a legally binding status of the 1686 letter, which empowered the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev.

Many Ukrainians see the Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a tool of the Kremlin.

Moldova's pro-Russian President, Igor Dodon, has said that he will soon present an initiative to hold a pan-Orthodox Council on the territory of Moldova.

While the Patriarch of Moscow up to now has formally overseen Orthodox churches in Ukraine, the country has two other Orthodox authorities which have splintered off without being recognised by Constantinople - until last week.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was the author of the bill, hailed the parliament's decision as bringing the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church closer. He continues the procedure of granting of the Tomos of autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Orthodox Christianity bordering on a 'Great Schism, ' but crisis can be resolved - Russian Church The current situation within Orthodox Christianity resembles the Great Schism that divided Catholics and Orthodox Christians, a spokesman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Holy Synod said, noting that the rift can still be healed.

The Russian Orthodox Church accuses Ukrainian nationalists of numerous attacks on its churches.

Ukraine's parliament on Thursday voted to hand over a landmark Kiev church to the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate after it agreed to recognize the independence of Ukraine's Orthodox Church.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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