Patriarch Bartholomew signs tomos of autocephaly for Ukrainian church

Patriarch Bartholomew signs tomos of autocephaly for Ukrainian church

Patriarch Bartholomew signs tomos of autocephaly for Ukrainian church

The spiritual head of Orthodox Christians worldwide formally granted independence to the Ukrainian church, marking an historic split from Russian Federation.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, signed the "Tomos" in Istanbul Saturday in front of clerics and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, formalizing a split that has angered Moscow amid a broader poliitical conflict between Ukraine and Russia, NPR reported.

Leader of Orthodox Church of Ukraine Metropolitan Epiphany also attended the ceremony.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East John X said it is "unreasonable to mend the schism [in Ukraine] at the cost of the unity of the Orthodox world".

Nikolai Balashov, another senior official for the Russian Orthodox Church, hit out at Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, saying he had "ended the global Orthodox fraternity and permanently lost the right to be called a spiritual leader".

The Ecumenical Patriarch, who is considered "first among equals" in the Orthodox world, said the Ukrainians "have awaited this blessed day for seven entire centuries".

Bartholomew said at the January 5 signing ceremony that Ukrainians could now enjoy "the sacred gift of emancipation, independence, and self-governance, becoming free from every external reliance and intervention".

Known as a Tomos decree, the document grants autonomy to the Ukrainian Orthodox church which until now has been overseen by Moscow for more than 330 years. Now, nurturing the Orthodox Church of Ukraine remains part of his electoral campaign.

Poroshenko met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the ceremony.

"The creation of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine is the pledge of our independence".

The recently established Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been granted independence, formalising an historic split from the Russian Church after more than 300 years of alignment.

Yepifaniy, whose secular name is Sergiy Dumenko, has been a critic of Moscow's religious influence in Ukraine and has supported Kiev's army against pro-Russian rebels.

Turkey's Orthodox community on Sunday marked the baptism of Jesus Christ with a special mass held at Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, followed by men diving into Istanbul's cold waters to retrieve a cross thrown by Patriarch Bartholomew I.

It had been "signed in violation of the canons and therefore not possessing any canonical force", Legoida said in a statement.

It came after Bartholomew I revoked a 1686 ruling that placed Ukraine under the patriarchate in Moscow in October.

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