Orthodox Church split fuels Russia-Ukraine tension

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko says top clerics in the Orthodox Church are now ready to grant independence to the Kiev Church, defying Moscow.

If the Constantinople Patriarch, Bartholomew, grants Kiev autocephaly (independence) he will be recognising its split with the Moscow Patriarchate.

On Friday Russia’s Patriarch Kirill met Bartholomew in Istanbul. They did not resolve the Kiev Church’s status.

Russia sees Kiev as the historic cradle of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a staunch ally of Patriarch Kirill, is bitterly opposed to President Poroshenko. There is a tense standoff in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government troops and Russian-backed rebels.

In a tweet on Monday Mr Poroshenko said Bartholomew’s Ecumenical Patriarchate had “decided that, without taking account of Moscow’s opinion, it can give all states the right to establish a local church.

“And first of all it is the right for Ukraine to set up a Local Congregation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

Image caption President Poroshenko (R) is an ally of Metropolitan Filaret (C), head of the Kiev Patriarchate

On Facebook a spokesman for the Kiev…

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