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Russian Orthodox Church Cuts Ties with Constantinople: What You Need to Know
16 October, 2018

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church. Photo credit: PATRIARCH KIRILL’S PRESS SERVICE

The Russian Orthodox Church officially cut ties with Constantinople on October 15 after a meeting of the church’s Holy Synod in Minsk, Belarus. This was their response to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s decision to grant Ukraine autocephaly, and lift anathema from the Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and Metropolitan Macarius, the head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church.

READ MORE: Ukraine to Receive Autocephaly, Says Ecumenical Patriarch

What does this mean?

Priests and bishops of the Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchates will no longer be able to serve together; worshippers of the Russian Orthodox Church will no longer be able to attend churches of the Constantinople Patriarchate; Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church will no longer mention the Constantinople Patriarch during liturgy.

What does the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarch (UOC-MP) say?

In a comment to Hromadske, the spokesperson for the UOC-MP Archbishop Klyment stated that the Russian Orthodox Church would restore their relationship with Constantinople if the “anti-canonical” decision on the Ukrainian church is reversed.

READ MORE: Autocephaly for Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Coming Soon?

Archbishop Klyment also said that practically all of the other local Orthodox churches are against the idea of autocephaly in Ukraine. But this is not entirely true. Only the hierarchs of the Serbian and Antiochian churches have spoken out against it.

What does the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarch (UOC-KP) say?

Spokesperson for the UOC-KP Archbishop Yevstraty Zorya told Hromadske that he believes the Russian church’s decision to be “self-isolating.” According to him, the other local churches are unlikely to follow suit.

“This is undoubtedly a sad decision, but it is a continuation of a range of decisions from Russia aimed at self-isolation, and, it actually repeats the Kremlin's reaction to the fair decision of the international community regarding Russia as an aggressor state. Accordingly, the Moscow Patriarch is also repeating the same path of self-isolation and imposing sanctions on itself,” Archbishop Zorya stated.

What does this mean for Ukraine?

Nothing. The process of creating a united local church will continue. It is assumed that the structures of the UOC-KP and the Ukrainian Autocephalous church will form the new church, as well as part of the UOC-MP.

READ MORE: Is Ukrainian Religious Society Diverse or Divided?