Ukrainian Orthodox Church gets ‘tomos of autocephaly’ at historic ceremony in Istanbul

Ukrainian Orthodox Church gets ‘tomos of autocephaly’ at historic ceremony in Istanbul

The Istanbul-based Patriarch, Bartholomew I, signed the "Tomos" in Istanbul in front of clerics and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, forming the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

The decision to split from the Moscow Patriarchate after more than three centuries of ties has angered Russian Federation.

Russian Federation has long campaigned against the move since Orthodox churches in Ukraine has traditionally been administered by the Moscow Patriarchate.

Ukrainian border officials have reportedly detained a shipment of a Christmas message from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church following the creation of a new Ukrainian Orthodox church independent of Moscow. If they decide at a general meeting that they want to voluntarily join the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine, they will be accepted into the structure of the single Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Poroshenko said he regarded gaining autocephaly as an important step in "Ukraine's decolonization from Russian Federation". Orthodox churches in other countries are aligning with Moscow or Constantinople in the rift.

Kiev has been pushing for a church free from Moscow's influence, which intensified after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. The churches strongly deny this.

Bartholomew I signs the Tomos of Autocephaly, marking the formal independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchal Church of St. George, in Istanbul.

Ukrainian president on Saturday received a document cementing the "autocephaly" status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Poroshenko, who is up for reelection at the end of March, has made the creation of the independent church a part of his campaign platform. Kirill has also objected to Bartholomew's close relationship with the Roman Catholic church and Pope Francis, and has long seen Moscow as a rival power centre to Constantinople.

Orthodox Christians, including in Russian Federation and Ukraine, celebrate Christmas in accordance with the older Julian calendar on January 7. He added: "I'm certain that soon our sister church of Russian Federation will repent for this extreme decision".

The SBU has denounced the Moscow patriarchate as a tool of the Kremlin and has questioned priests loyal to Moscow.

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