Kiev Seizes Copies of Russian Orthodox Church Leader's Christmas Address

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed into law a bill obliging the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to change its name

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed into law a bill obliging the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to change its name

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has signed on Saturday Tomos of Autocephaly for the newly-established Ukrainian church, the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine, TASS reports from the Church of St. George, the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Russian church has severed ties with Istanbul, the center of the Orthodox world. 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.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has signed a decree of independence for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

The tomos will be handed over to OCU head, Metropolitan Epifaniy, on January 6.

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.

The move incensed Moscow, and prompted President Vladimir Putin to warn of possible bloodshed in his annual news conference.

Kiev claims Moscow-backed churches in Ukraine are a Kremlin tool to spread propaganda and support fighters in the east in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.

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Ukraine imposed martial law in November, citing the threat of a full-scale invasion after Russian Federation captured three of its vessels in the Kerch Strait. The churches strongly deny this. Metropolitan Epiphanius was elected the primate of the new church.

A "unification council" was held in Kiev last month on the initiative of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew. Russian Federation bitterly opposes the split, comparing it to the 1054 Great Schism that divided western and eastern Christianity.

Bartholomew, who is "first among equals" of Orthodox patriarchs, criticised Moscow's intention to break off relations as "a form of pressure and coercion in order to make others agree with one's opinions is unacceptable" in a homily last month.

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

The rival Kiev Patriarchate was born after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its popularity has grown since 2014.

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