The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople presented a decree of independence to the head of the newly-established Orthodox Church of Ukraine, formally severing its connection to the Russian Orthodox Church.
In Istanbul, Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew I presented the Tomos, a scroll containing the decree, in a symbolic ceremony sanctifying the Ukrainian church’s independence.
Until the decree, the Orthodox church in Ukraine that was a branch of the Russian church was considered legitimate and two others in Ukraine were regarded as schismatic. The new church unites the two formerly schismatic bodies.
“The Tomos is one more act declaring the independence of Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who attended the presentation ceremony in Istanbul.
Bartholomew I, considered first among equals in Orthodox Christian patriarchy, announced the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has become the 15th independent Orthodox church.
He argued that Ukrainians “desired ecclesiastical independence” for centuries and never accepted that they were part of the Russian church.
Following Bartholomew I’s October decision for independence, the Russian church severed ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
“Instead of healing the schism, instead of uniting Orthodoxy, we got an even greater schism that exists solely for political reasons,” Archbishop Kliment, a spokesman for the Russia-affiliated church in Ukraine, said Sunday.
Metropolitan Epiphanius I, who was elected last month by Ukrainian Orthodox leaders to head the new church, will take the decree to Kiev, where it will be displayed in Kiev.
Epiphanius thanked the patriarch in Istanbul, saying: “the old injustice is eliminated with the thanks to His Holiness and Holy Synod of the Mother Church.”
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