Kathimerini: US backs Ecumenical Patriarchate in church row

A meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Oct. 15

A meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Oct. 15. Oksana Manchuk BelTA TASS

"The danger looming for Orthodox Christianity is impersonated in the row of Constantinople and Moscow and must push all Orthodox Christians to intensify prayers", His Beatitude John X was quoted by the Serbian Orthodox Church as saying. "And we clearly understand the threats that exist in this connection", Poroshenko said at a conference on the implementation of a program to build housing for soldiers in Starychi in Lviv region on October 16.

Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department, said after the Holy Synod's meeting in Minsk, Belarus on Monday that rupturing ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate was a response to its "lawless and canonically void moves".

The tussle over Ukraine's spiritual future flows from the poisoning of relations between Kyiv and Moscow after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of separatist fighting in Ukraine's east that has killed over 10,000 people. Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, said the religious move marks an "apogee of Ukrainian sovereignty" and "an end to Ukraine's colonized relationship with Russian Federation".

"I see the latest announcement of the Holy Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate as a move leading to schism, and.it directly and unequivocally opens up the possibility - nearly emphasizes - new breakthroughs for other churches", the Serbian Patriarch told Vecernje Novosti daily.

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"The church that acknowledged the schismatics has excluded itself from the canonical field of the Orthodoxy".

The Ukrainian president and lawmakers have backed independence for the country's divided Orthodox Church and see it as striking a blow against Moscow's influence in Ukraine.

The Moscow Patriarchate says its worshippers should no longer attend any services conducted by clergy loyal to Constantinople.

And, he said, "the upbringing of youth in the Christian spirit is a project that we, the Orthodox, are willing to implement together with the Catholics". Until now, the other Orthodox Churches have recognized Ukraine as under Moscow's jurisdiction and honored the excommunication.

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Stevo Vucinic, vice-president of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church metropolis' council, welcomed the decision by Constantinople as of "historical importance" and slammed what he called a "political dispute" led by Moscow and Belgrade.

The Bishops' Conference of the Finnish Orthodox Church said the decision by Moscow was "unilateral, sad and very unfortunate" and hoped the patriarchs would resolve the conflict in mutual negotiations.

The split between the Constantinople and Moscow Churches - the highest-status and largest Orthodox Churches respectively - followed on from the two greatest upheavals in Christian Church history, it wrote.

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