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Opinion | The Orthodox Schism and the Spiritual Limits of Politics

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As in most schisms in Christianity’s history, this one is determined as much by realpolitik and national interests as by dogma. Canonical issues can determine political behavior, while politics often dictate church developments. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is asserting its ancient right to grant autonomy to churches and to judge issues of church law. Constantinople was established by the Emperor Constantine in 330 and, as the “New Rome,” it came just after Rome in seniority. The schism in 1054 left Constantinople the primary church in the East. It is these rights of primacy that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is determined to defend, despite its very reduced circumstances following the city’s fall to the Ottomans and the withering of its own flock in Turkey.

Russia wants to project its leadership of the Orthodox world as the “Third Rome,” a role it took upon itself after breaking away from Constantinople in 1448, when its leadership disagreed with efforts to unite East and West Christendom. After 1453, many Orthodox, including the Greeks, looked to Russia for salvation from the Turks.

But today Ukraine is forging a separate identity after centuries of Russian domination, strengthening ties with the European Union and the United States. Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, greeted the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s announcement of its decision on Oct. 11 with fighting words.

“This is the collapse of Moscow’s centuries-old claims for global domination as the Third Rome,” he said. “The independence of our church is part of our pro-European and pro-Ukrainian policies that we have been consistently pursuing.”

On Oct. 12, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, charged that the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s decision was a “provocation” backed by the United States. On the same day, Mr. Putin discussed the issue at his Security Council. Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Church of Russia, is a close ally of Mr. Putin’s and has taken a hard line on Ukraine for years. On Monday, the governing body of the Russian Church, the Holy Synod, decided to break off relations with Constantinople.

Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Russian church’s external relations, stressed that Moscow would not abide by any decisions taken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding the Ukrainian Church. “All these decisions are unlawful and canonically void,” he said. “The Russian Orthodox Church does not recognize these decisions and will not follow them.” He called on the Ecumenical Patriarchate to change its decision.

This is unlikely, as Bartholomew has long seen the Russian church as trying to undermine his authority. Patriarch Kirill stayed away from a Holy and Great Council hosted by Bartholomew on Crete in 2016, a meeting of all Orthodox church leaders aimed at promoting unity, which had been 55 years in the making. The patriarchs of Bulgaria, Georgia and Antioch also did not attend.

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Russian Protestantism as the New Russian Orthodox Church after the Schism of 2018 - Google Search

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Story image for Russian Protestantism as the New Russian Orthodox Church after the Schism of 2018 from New York Times

The Orthodox Schism and the Spiritual Limits of Politics

New York Times-Oct 18, 2018
Russian claims to leadership of the Orthodox Christians have appealed ... in 330 and, as the “New Rome,” it came just after Rome in seniority.
Story image for Russian Protestantism as the New Russian Orthodox Church after the Schism of 2018 from CNN International

Ukraine war threatens deep divisions in Orthodox Church

CNN International-Oct 17, 2018
(CNN) A schism has erupted within the eastern Orthodox church, ... On Monday, the Russian Orthodox Church -- which is lavishly funded ... Bartholomew infuriated his Russian Orthodox counterparts last week when he announced he .... a move which led to the foundation of a Protestant church in England.
Story image for Russian Protestantism as the New Russian Orthodox Church after the Schism of 2018 from Deutsche Welle

Ukraine-Russian Orthodox church rift extends to Germany

Deutsche Welle-Oct 16, 2018
The Russian Orthodox Church's three bishops in Germany have ... The Orthodox Church is Christianity's third largest grouping after Roman Catholics and Protestants. ... of Ukraine's efforts to split from the Russian Orthodox Church and ... President Petro Poroshenko, who is seeking re-election next March.
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Flash - US urges respect for independent Ukraine church

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WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

The United States called Friday on all sides to respect the new independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, wading into a religious feud that has enraged Russia.

The leading authority in Orthodox Christianity, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, last week granted the right of autonomy to the Ukrainian church, which for more than 300 years has been under Moscow's control.

"The United States reiterates its strong support for religious freedom and the freedom of members of religious groups, including Ukraine's Orthodox community, to govern their religion according to their beliefs, free of outside interference," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"We support Ukrainians' ability to worship as they choose and hope this will be respected by all.

"Tolerance, restraint and understanding are key to ensuring that people with different religious affiliations can live and prosper together in peace," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier accused the United States of supporting the "provocation" led by the church's first among equals, Istanbul-based Patriarch Bartholomew I.

The decision by the Ecumenical Patriarchate will likely reduce Russian influence in Ukraine, where Moscow has backed separatists in the country's east and annexed Crimea in 2014.

The Russian church, whose Patriarch Kirill is a strong backer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has broken ties with the leading Orthodox authority over the decision, which it refuses to recognize.

Ukrainian leaders have been campaigning for independence for their church, but Russian church backers have described the move as a schism as significant as the 1054 split between Eastern and Western Christianity.

© 2018 AFP

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Russia's Patriarch Kirill Blames Istanbul Church For 'Schism'

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty-20 hours ago
Patriarch Kirill on October 19 blasted church authorities -- known as the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople -- as "schismatic" for a ...
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Attempts to destroy canonical Orthodoxy in Ukraine will fail ...

TASS-Oct 13, 2018
The canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine cannot be destroyed by political groups, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill said during his ...
Patriarch Kirill hopes for continued Orthodox unity
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Putin Is the Biggest Loser of Orthodox Schism
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Lukashenko meets with Patriarch Kirill

Belarus News (BelTA)-Oct 15, 2018
MINSK, 15 October (BelTA) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the Palace of ...
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В Сингапуре состоялась первая встреча министров обороны России и США

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В ходе диалога глава Пентагона выразил Шойгу соболезнования в связи с трагедией в Керчи. Он отметил, что в США тоже происходит подобное, поэтому американцам понятны чувства россиян.

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