Russian Federation hints at tough response to Ukrainian church split

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Moldovan Metropolitan Church didn't reply by the time of publishing regarding its position on the feud between Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchates on Ukraine.

The broadcast came two days after Ukraine won approval from the synod, led by Bartholomew, to establish an autocephalous - or independent - church.

This revolution was followed by the annexation of Crimea by Russia and a war with separatist pro-russians in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed more than 10,000 deaths.

Ukraine now has three Orthodox communities - one answering to the Russian Orthodox Church and two schismatic churches.

On October 11, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, chose to renew the decision already taken to proceed to the granting of "the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine".

I ensure that the government will respect the choice of those who decide to stay in that church structure that maintains unity with the Russian Orthodox Church, ' Poroshenko noted.

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

Police were out in force in Kiev Sunday as Ukraine marked Defender's Day, an event with nationalist roots, shortly after a decision to grant independence to the country's Orthodox Church brought fresh tensions.

On 11 October the Patriarch of Constantinople lifted the excommunication of Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev's Patriarchate, and accepted him into full communion. The synod also called the latter's move to revoke the 1686 act on transfer of the Kiev Metropolis under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate as canonically void. The Finnish Orthodox Church also voiced hope that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople "will be able to settle the dispute during the talks and relations will normalize as soon as possible".

At the same time, around 500 worshipers gathered at the landmark Kiev-Pechersk monastery, which is now aligned with Moscow, for a service led by Metropolitan Onufriy, the head of the Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Church.

Constantinople's move "is a big blow for Russia", Marat Shterin, a religious studies expert at King's College London, told the BBC.

"We can't keep the contact with this church, who is in a situation of schism", he added. "We hope that common sense prevails and that the Constantinople Patriarchate changes its mind".

Ilarion said Constantinople's decision to back the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's independence drive was illegal and that the Russian Orthodox Church would disregard it. Specifically, it promised to "defend the interests of the Orthodox in Ukraine" (Qha.com.ua, October 12), after which it expanded its criticism of the United States for this intra-Church development (Credo.press, October 12).

This is the reason that, since the break up of the Soviet Union and the independence of the Ukraine in 1991, Russian Federation has done everything possible to keep the 30 million Orthodox Ukrainians within its orbit.

"The Ukrainian authorities attempted to resolve a religious issue through political means".

Weakening Moscow's influence over Ukrainian worshippers has been an integral part of Ukraine's statehood since the ex-Soviet republic became independent in 1991. It's an issue of Ukrainian national security.

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