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Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople: religious schism

Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Constantinople: religious schism

The political friction between Russia and Ukraine caused the religious schism in these countries, Guardian reported. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has announced it will cut ties with its ‘boss’, the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s move is just a symmetrical answer, the split is a show of force by Russia after a Ukrainian church was granted independence last week. The ROC represents a majority of Orthodox Christians and commands huge wealth and power. Its leader, Patriarch Kirill, is closely allied to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, who he has described as “a miracle of God”.

Speaking after the meeting of the Holy Synod (decision-making body) of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hilarion said it does not recognise the decision taken last week by the Constantinople Patriarchate as it has “completely associated itself with the schism”. Metropolitan Hilarion is a powerful person, he is head of external relations department of the Moscow Patriarchate and permanent member of the Holy Synod of the ROC.

The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church elected on Monday to cut ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is viewed as the leading authority for the world’s 300 million Orthodox worshippers.

Last week Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the “first among equals” of eastern Orthodox clerics, granted independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which previously answered to Moscow. Most of the Orthodox parishes in Ukraine have historically been under the umbrella of the Moscow Patriarchate, and many of these may eventually switch to the newly independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, despite Moscow’s warnings.

An interesting fact: despite the gaining an independence from Moscow Patriarchate, many Ukrainian worshippers still believe that the Russian Orthodox Church is a real church, not the new Ukrainian one. Probably, it is a power of habit – the church in Ukraine has been under the jurisdiction of the ROC since the late 1600s, but calls for independence have increased since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.