Moscow expresses disgust as Ukrainian Church gets independence

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Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, conducts a service at the Volodymysky Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.

The Synod decreed to "renew the decision already made that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine".

"You know the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on this issue, and, of course, we would not want any steps to be taken that could trigger a deep split in the world of Orthodoxy", Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists, commenting on a possible decision by the Holy Synod of Constantinople Patriarchate on granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian church, an UNIAN correspondent in Russia has reported.

President Petro Poroshenko has pushed for the church in Ukraine to be independent. "I guarantee that the Ukrainian state will respect the choice of those who decide to stay in church structures retaining unity with the Russian Orthodox Church".

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The Ukrainian Church is now split into three bodies, one technically overseen by the Patriarch of Moscow, a fact the Kiev government considers unacceptable given its ongoing war with Russia-backed rebels in the east.

The leader of the larger of the two schismatic churches, Patriarch Filaret, said he would call a council with the leadership of the other schismatic church to choose a leader of the autocephalous church.

"This is a victory of good over evil, light over darkness", Poroshenko said in televised remarks, adding that Ukraine has been waiting for this "historic event" for more than 330 years.

"The creation of a local Ukrainian church has been one of Poroshenko's main slogans going into the 2019 presidential election", said Volodymyr Fesenko, an analyst at Ukraine's Penta think-tank.

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