UKRAINE Moscow breaks communion with Constantinople

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One day after the Russian Orthodox Church said it had made a decision to sever links with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in protest over its endorsement of Ukraine's request for an "autocephalous" church, Kremlin voiced concern over developments, while expressing the hope that the interests of the Russian clergy will be honored.

"No other decision could have been taken by our Holy Synod because the logic of all the actions taken recently by the Constantinople Patriarchate led to this".

Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads foreign relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, said Russian Orthodox leaders chose to "break the Eucharistic communion" in response to actions it called "lawless and canonically void".

President Vladimir Putin has boosted the Russian Orthodox Church's prestige and many of its priests identify closely with his nationalist agenda.

Apart from that, the holy synod of the Russian Orthodox Church hopes that there will be no clashes in Ukraine over this issue. The Orthodox Church split from the Catholic Church in 1054.

The Ukrainian president and lawmakers have backed independence for the country's divided Orthodox Church and see it as striking a blow against Moscow's influence in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president and lawmakers have backed independence for the country's now divided Orthodox Church and see it as striking a blow against Moscow's influence in Ukraine.

Russia also said it had to protect ethnic Russians ahead of its military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.

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"For refusing to follow such prohibitions for the clergy penalties (suspensions), and for the laity - repentance in confession of disobedience to the Church", said Yakimchuk.

Patriarch Filaret was excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church in the dispute with Moscow over the status of the Ukraine Church, but has now been reinstated by the Istanbul clerics.

"The Constantinople Patriarchate liquidated itself as such a center", he said.

Alexander Volkov, spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, said the Holy Synod of the Church would "express its position", without elaborating on what measures it might take.

How has Ukraine reacted to Constantinople's move?

. The Russian Orthodox Church is by far the biggest.

The split is a show of force by Russian Federation after the Ukrainian church was granted independence.

The Serbian Church is close to Moscow; the Greek Church less so, but many Greek clergy feel close to both Russian Federation and Serbia.

Another pro-government paper, Izvestiya, spoke of "one of the darkest days in the history of Orthodoxy". In the first half of 2018 alone, Ukraine witnessed 10 new attacks on Russian Orthodox Churches.

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