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Russian Federation vows to defend believers in Ukraine church dispute

12 October 2018

"The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine will equally coexist with all other churches and religious organizations as guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of our state and global law", the UOC-KP said.

Russian Federation opposes any steps that lead to a split in Orthodox Christianity, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday, when asked about Ukraine's bid to establish an independent church outside Moscow's control.

Poroshenko quickly hailed the decision of the Patriarchate, which is based in its historic home of Istanbul, the former Constantinople and once the capital of the Byzantine Empire before the Ottoman Muslim conquest of 1453.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (L) meets with Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, in Kiev, Ukraine October 11, 2018. The Russian church has said it will no longer regard the Ecumenical Patriarch as first among equals if the Ukrainian church is recognized as legitimate.

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Metropolitan Emmanuel of France told the media the Ukrainian church's independence request was approved.

"Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church", it said. "And, of course, we would not want any steps taken that lead to a deep split in the Orthodox world".

Ukraine's Orthodox church split from Moscow in the 1990s, with the charismatic Filaret a foremost proponent of a new independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Moscow Patriarchate has already downgraded its ties with Bartholomew I over the affair, which it considers an unjust encroachment on its spiritual territory.

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Stavropegia are subordinated directly to the Patriarchate, rather than to a local bishop.

The Kyiv Patriarchate urged the episcopate, clergy and members of the UAOC, as well as those of the Moscow Patriarchate, to support the unification process of the Ukrainian Orthodoxy.

The Kremlin's comments could inflame tensions between Kiev and Moscow, whose relations collapsed following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of a Moscow-backed separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

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Russian Federation vows to defend believers in Ukraine church dispute