Ukraine wants to cut ties with the Russian Orthodox Church — here's why

euronews | 5/21/2018 | David Stern
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To the plan’s supporters, this creation of an “autocephalous” church would be a major step in Kyiv’s campaign to break free from Russian hegemony.

“We see the restoration of neo-imperial ideas in Moscow,” said Archbishop Yevstraty Zoria, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, to Euronews.

Critics - Move - Division - Ukraine - Orthodox

But critics warn that such a move would risk greater division in Ukraine and throughout the Orthodox world.

Religion is a serious, and somewhat confusing, business in Ukraine. More than two-thirds of the population follows the Orthodox canon, which plays a central role in the country’s public life and self-image.

Ukrainians - Orthodox - Churches - Denomination - Catholics

Ukrainians have three Orthodox churches to choose from (and one denomination, the Greek Catholics, who follow the Eastern liturgy, but profess loyalty to the Vatican).

Only one of the Orthodox churches is considered “official”, however: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which functions as an autonomous denomination within the Russian Orthodox Church.

Church - Shares - Prayer - Community - Mother

This Ukrainian church is self-governing, but shares a “prayer community” with its mother church in Russia, officials say.

To many patriotic-minded Ukrainians, though, the idea that Moscow has any involvement in Ukraine’s religious affairs is an anathema. And given the close ties between Russian Orthodoxy and the Kremlin, they believe this translates into political sway as well.

Matter - Security - Defences - War - President

“This is a matter of national security and our defences in a hybrid war,” said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. “Because the Kremlin regards the Russian church as one of the key instruments of influence on Ukraine.”

The religious ties between the two countries date back more than a thousand years to a time before there was even a Russia or Ukraine to speak of.

Nations - Heritage - Kyivan - Rus - Medieval

Both nations trace their historical heritage back to Kyivan Rus, a medieval state that was centred in Kyiv and, in 988, adopted Christianity, establishing Orthodoxy in the eastern Slavic lands.

Ukrainian territories later became part of the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: euronews
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