The Russian Orthodox Church says it’s severing ties with the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community after his decision to grant Ukrainian clerics independence from the Moscow Patriarchate.

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, left, prepares to chair a meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Igor Palkin/Russian Orthodox Church Press Service via AP)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, second from left, and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, second from right, during their meeting with members of the Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod and Belarusian Orthodox Church Synod in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Igor Palkin, Russian Orthodox Church Press Service via AP)

Metropolitan Hilarion said the church’s Holy Synod decided to “”break the Eucharistic communion” with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, delivers his speech as Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill looks on during their meeting with members of the Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod and Belarusian Orthodox Church Synod in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Igor Palkin, Russian Orthodox Church Press Service via AP)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill walk during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Igor Palkin, Russian Orthodox Church Press Service via AP)

The move comes after the Istanbul-based patriarchate, whose head Bartholomew I is considered the “first among equals” of Orthodox church leaders, removed its condemnation of leaders of schismatic Orthodox churches in Ukraine. Last week’s decision marked a step toward establishing an ecclesiastically independent — or autocephalous — church in Ukraine.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill walk during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Igor Palkin, Russian Orthodox Church Press Service via AP)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, welcomes Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Igor Palkin, Russian Orthodox Church Press Service via AP)

The church in Ukraine has been under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church since the late 1600s, but calls for independence have increased since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

Source: The Associated Press

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