The Russian Orthodox Church has threatened to retaliate against its Istanbul-based rival if it allows Ukraine to cut its spiritual ties with Moscow and thereby end Russian religious rule in the country.
Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's External Relations Department, said on September 8 that if the patriarch of Kyiv was recognized, "we will have no choice but to sever relations with Constantinople."
Hilarion - Patriarch - Bartholomew - Constantinople - Way
Hilarion also accused Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople of acting in a "despicable and treacherous way."
Bartholomew, known as the "first among equals" of Orthodox Christian leaders in the world, is expected to rule in the coming months on an appeal from Ukraine to break away from Moscow and create an independent church.
Orthodox - Church - Decision - September - Bartholomew
The Russian Orthodox Church is especially upset with a decision on September 7 by Bartholomew to send two envoys to Ukraine as a step toward declaring ecclesiastical independence for the church there.
The Istanbul-based Patriarchate said it will send two bishops to Ukraine "within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine," strongly suggesting it had already decided to grant independence to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
"When one brazenly...
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