The independence of the Russian Church is the biggest schism in Christianity in a thousand years ago
The Russian Orthodox Church on Monday decided to sever all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul in protest at its acceptance of Ukraine’s request for an independent church.
Archbishop Elarion said after a meeting of the ruling council of the Russian Church in Belarus that the Holy Synod had left no choice but to sever relations with the patriarchate in Istanbul, the seat of the world spiritual leader of about 300 million Orthodox Christians.
Last week, Ukraine received ecumenical approval for an independent church, which Kiev called an important step against Russian interference in its affairs.
The Russian Orthodox Church described it as “the biggest schism in Christianity a thousand years ago,” according to Reuters.
“A decision has been made to sever the relations completely,” Archbishop Elarion told reporters in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, announcing Russia’s response to the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
“Our Holy Synod could not have taken another decision because the logic of all the actions taken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople led to this.”
The Russian Orthodox Church likened Ukraine’s steps to independence to the great schism of 1054 and led to a schism between the Western and Eastern Churches and warned that it could lead to a permanent rift in the world’s Orthodox community.
The decision of Ecumenism to support the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s campaign for independence was illegal and the Russian Orthodox Church would not recognize it, he said.
“We hope that the common sense will prevail and that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will change its relations with the current canonical reality,” he said.
The conflict over Ukraine’s spiritual future stems from the deterioration of relations between Kiev and Moscow after Russia annexed the Crimea to it in 2014, and the outbreak of separatist fighting in eastern Ukraine led to the deaths of more than 10 thousand people.
Ukraine accuses the Russian Orthodox Church of having “malicious influence” on its territory, allowing the Kremlin to use it as a tool to justify Russia’s expansionism and support separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.