ICC NOTE: The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is appealing to the oldest and likely most prestigious of the Orthodox Patriarchs in the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey). The birthplace of the Eastern Orthodox Church can be traced to the Eastern Roman Empire and then through to the Byzantine Empire. For the UOC to reach out to them and surpassing the Russian Orthodox Church is a clear indication the ROC does not wish for the UOC to gain its independence from Moscow. This is due in large part to how large and vibrant the Orthodox Church is in Ukraine as well as Russia’s continued military pursuits in the region.
9/13/2016 Ukraine (Christian Today) – Russian military intervention in Ukraine, including annexing the Crimea and supporting separatists in the east of the country, has poisoned relationships between the two states and outraged international opinion. Originating from Russian fears about Ukraine’s perceived pivot to the West, there are no signs of the situation being resolved. However, the Orthodox Church in Russia and Ukraine is deeply involved in national affairs, and is fighting its own territorial battles alongside those fought by soldiers and diplomats. The stakes for national pride and long-term harmony are just as high. Now, a move by Ukrainian politicians to enlist the support of the Orthodox world’s premier patriarch has raised the stakes very considerably.
Are you perhaps over-dramatising a little? What exactly has happened?
Not in the least. According to the Religious Information Service of Ukraine, two former presidents of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk and Viktor Yushchenko, have presented Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with a 5,000-signature petition asking him to grant independent or “autocephalous” status to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This follows a previous vote in the Ukrainian Parliament back in June to approach him.
But what’ s it got to do with Russia?
The Orthodox Church in Ukraine is technically under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, though it has a large amount of autonomy. There was an act in 1686 that subordinated Kiev to Moscow, and that’s what Ukraine’s Parliament wants Bartholomew to revoke.