Constantinople moves to grant autocephaly to Ukrainian Church, outraging Moscow

Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch (Image: Patriarchate.org)

Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch (Image: Patriarchate.org) 

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Yesterday, the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it has appointed as its exarchs in Kyiv an archbishop from the US and a bishop from Canada “both of whom are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate … [as part of] preparations for granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

This is the clearest public statement yet that Patriarch Bartholomew in his role as the senior and universal patriarch has decided to grant autocephaly and has rejected Moscow’s insistence that Ukraine is part of the Russian church’s “canonical territory” and thus must be subject to Moscow’s diktat.

Not surprisingly, the Moscow Patriarchate was outraged. Vladimir Legoyda, who heads the Moscow Synod’s department for relations with society and the media said that Constantinople’s action “without the agreement of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Blessed Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine is an unprecedented crude intervention into the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

Such actions, Legoyda said, “cannot remain without an answer,” although he did not specify just what that “answer” might look like.

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Edited by: A. N.

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