The Orthodox Church and the Apple of discord in Ukraine


In Orthodoxy there is an open dispute has broken out. Moscow attacked the Patriarch of Constantinople, because he declared the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to be independent. The Eastern Church has a deep cleavage threatening.

A quarter of a century the Church dispute in the Ukraine was for Orthodoxy as something of a ticking time bomb. Millions of Ukrainians belonged to since the beginning of the 1990s, two breakaway Church groups – the “Patriarchate of Kiev” and the “Autocephalous Church”. These churches were not internationally recognized, its members were often stigmatized as a “splitter”, after faithful of the Moscow “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” lossagten and independence unilaterally proclaimed.

Long did other Orthodox churches, the schism was an internal matter of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, at the latest, after the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent war in Eastern Ukraine, it was clear that The Patriarch of Moscow, which since the 17th century. Century, the Ukraine Church was legally registered, may not be a unifying figure for all Ukrainians.

With great pleasure, stay at the end of cleavage

This fact was the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the honorary head of world Orthodoxy – after all, he’s on 6. January 2019 in Istanbul, presented to the Supreme Hierarch of the independent Ukrainian Church of the Tomos – a kind of independence, bull -, and in the presence of the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. “This is a cause for great joy, for many Ukrainian Orthodox. Now a heavy burden from your shoulders. This was all the more severe, as the Moscow-loyal Church denied to them over decades, the grace of God, their sacraments to be invalid, said that the right denied to be a part of the global Orthodoxy”, – says the theologian Kyryl Hovorun, the importance of the Tomos to the DW.

The head of the new Ukrainian Church, Metropolitan Epiphanius

The independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine was only in December of 2018, from the unification of the two breakaway groups, which are also two of the formerly Moscow-loyal bishops. The head of the Church, the 39-year-old Metropolitan was elected to Epiphanius. Patriarch Bartholomew sealed the Ukrainian independence with a Church legally daring maneuver: He recanted a 350-year-old decree of his predecessor, spoke of the Ukraine to the Russian Patriarch.

Moscow calls Bartholomew

However, Moscow will continue to try to prevent the recognition of the Ukrainian Church. The Russian Patriarch Kirill threatened the Ecumenical Patriarch with the “highest court” and spoke to him in his historical Dignity, “to be the First in the Orthodox world”. Russian President Vladimir Putin imputed the feast of St. Bartholomew, this wool earn in the Ukraine, only “money”. With such rhetoric, Moscow will attempt to isolate themselves but only themselves, says the Greek political scientist Ilias Kouskouvelis, from the University of Thessaloniki. “The Ecumenical Patriarch has as great Reputation – not only in Greece but in large Parts of the Orthodox world,” explained Kouskouvelis to the DW.

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Also of the Church criticism of Moscow’s response will be noisy, especially because of the announcement, until further notice, not of the sacrament with representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “It is unthinkable that the Divine Eucharist, the mystery of the infinite love and self-sacrifice of Christ par excellence, can be used as a weapon against another Church,” – criticized the Albanian Church leader, Archbishop Anastasios, the Russian Patriarch in a recently published letter.

Two camps of Orthodoxy

The Ukrainian Patriarch Epiphanius hopes, meanwhile, to a speedy normalization of the Situation. “I believe that justice will prevail, and eventually all churches will acknowledge our independence, even if that takes time,” – said the Ukrainian Metropolitan in an interview with DW. He believes that first of all, the Greek Orthodox Church of the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch follows. The Romanian Church may soon follow.

Not to be expected for the time being, the recognition on the part of the traditionally closely connected to Moscow churches. These include: the Serbian and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Clearly on the side of Moscow, the Patriarchate of Antioch. Probably for political reasons: The canonical territory of this Church is in Syria, where many Christians are the dictator Bashar al-Assad loyalty – a close ally of Russia.

The other of the 14 independent Orthodox churches have so far been covered. Kyrylo Hovorun, according to many of the churches waiting to see how the dispute with the Ukraine develop. “It is important, what will become of the new Church. Whether you are preaching a national or even nationalist ideas, or whether you will be a truly open and inclusive Church that reaches out to national minorities,” said Hovorun.

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Church schism in Ukraine

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Church schism in Ukraine