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How Geopolitics Are Driving the Biggest Eastern Orthodox Schism in a Millennium

Oct 19, 2018 | 10:00 GMT
Worshippers attend a service at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra in Ukraine during October.

Worshippers attend a service on the Feast of the Intercession of the Virgin Mary in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, a monastery and headquarters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy in Kiev on Oct. 14. On Oct. 11, the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate agreed to grant the Ukrainian Orthodox Church its independence, a move opposed by Moscow.

(VOLODYMYR SHUVAYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

On Oct. 15, the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it would break off all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), the leader of Eastern Orthodoxy. The break came after the patriarchate agreed on Oct. 11 to grant autocephaly, or self-governance, to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, putting it on the path to independence from the Russian Orthodox Church. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hailed the move by Constantinople, saying it "finally dispelled the imperial illusions and chauvinistic fantasies of Moscow." The Russian Orthodox Church issued a statement saying that the decision is "out of the canonical boundaries" and that officials in Moscow have vowed a "firm and tough response."...

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