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Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by Moscow cuts off ties with Russia

A part of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church that stayed faithful to Moscow following a 2019 schism has announced its intention to split with the Russian church over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


In 2019, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide granted Ukraine permission to establish a church independent of Moscow, effectively severing centuries of ecclesiastical relations between the two countries.


However, many parishes, particularly in Ukraine’s east, chose to stay loyal to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate.


Following a conference of its leadership, the church declared its ‘complete independence’ from Russia.


‘The council has adopted the relevant additions and amendments to the Statute on the Management of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, confirming the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s full autonomy and independence,’ it said late Friday in a statement.


The statement denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and Patriarch Kirill’s support for what Moscow called its ‘special military operation’ to confront anti-Russian nationalists. Ukraine claims that the full-scale invasion was completely unprovoked.


According to a 2020 study conducted by the Kyiv-based Razumkov Centre, 34% of Ukrainians identified as members of Ukraine’s major Orthodox Church, while 14% identified as members of Ukraine’s Moscow Patriarchate Church.


More than 400 parishes had left the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate in the aftermath of the invasion before to Friday’s decision.


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