Moscow’s Orthodox Patriarch Kirill warns Constantinople’s Patriarch Bartholomew of Orthodox split if he supports full independence of Ukrainian Orthodox Church

But Patriarch Kirill protested in Geneva that 30 churches had been “violently” realigned from his authority to the Kiev hierarchy, and that at least ten other churches were “under threat of seizure by sectarians and [Ukrainian] nationalists, who then present what is happening as the supposedly voluntary transfer of a body of believers to the so-called Kiev Patriarchate.” The Russian prelate complained that certain bishops, claiming to be acting under Patriarch Bartholomew’s authority, had visited Ukraine and expressed their support for the Kiev hierarchy, hence creating “temptations” among the believers and clergy of Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill welcomed the fact that many of the world’s Orthodox churches had come out in clear support of Moscow’s position. His subliminal message was something like: don’t even think about offering succour or recognition to the Kiev hierarchy, or all further inter-Orthodox cooperation will be cancelled until further notice. . . .

There are many Ukrainians, in the homeland and the diaspora who dream of their country having a united Orthodox church which would look politically to Kiev and ecclesiastically to the ancient see of Constantinople, in other words to Patriarch Bartholomew. During a visit to Ukraine in 2008, Patriarch Bartholomew held a delicate balance, accepting the legality of the Moscow Patriarchate’s authority in that part of the world but also giving heart to the Ukrainian yearning for a united, independent church. Patriarch Kirill was making it clear that if this happens, there could be a massive split within global Orthodoxy.

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