Sergey Chaplin, a church publicist and former executive editor of Moscow Patriarchate Magazine, told Meduza that all local Orthodox churches recognize the primacy of the Constantinople Patriarchate, including his right to overrule decisions by the heads of other local churches and to grant independence to new branches.
The Russian Orthodox Church has suspended with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
"At the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, held in Minsk on October 15, 2018, the Statement of the Holy Synod was adopted in connection with the encroachment of the Constantinople Patriarchate on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church".
The decision means priests of the Russian Church will no longer perform services with those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and members of the Russian laity will not participate in sacraments performed by churches that come under the Phanar until the "anti-canonical decisions" are reconsidered, the Russian Patriarchate said.
The move could mark a historical split between one Christian body akin to the 1054 schism that divided Western and Eastern Christianity or the Reformation in 1517, when Roman Catholicism split into new Protestant divisions.
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Ukraine's government has lobbied for an independent church on the grounds that the Russian Orthodox Church is an instrument of the Kremlin, accusing it of stoking separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine and of acting on behalf of Russia's intelligence services. In response, the Kyiv Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church called the Russian Orthodox Church's move "self-isolation in retaliation for legal decisions by the world community".
The Belarusian Orthodox Church, which is by far the biggest religious denomination in the nation of almost 10 million, is under the direct jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church is by far the biggest.
Metropolitan Ilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate's head of external relations, on Tuesday said that in doing so the Constantinople Patriarchate had destroyed its authority and that the Orthodox Church no longer had a single center.
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And it reversed the excommunication (anathema) by the Russian Church of two top Ukrainian clerics, who lead the until now unrecognised churches in Ukraine. A matter of our national security.
The Russian Orthodox Church says Mount Athos is also now closed to Russian Orthodox Christians from Russia. "It's an issue of Ukrainian statehood", he said.
He said that up to a 10 Moscow Patriarchate parishes in Ukraine have switched over to the Kyiv Patriarchate since 2014 when Moscow invaded the easternmost regions of Luhansk and Donetsk after taking over the Crimea in a war that has killed more than 10,400 people and displace an additional 1.6 million.
But the mood has been different on social media, where many have no sympathy for the Russian Orthodox Church.
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