The Russian Orthodox Church announced on Monday it is severing relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, following the latter’s decision to grant independence (autocephaly) to the Church of Ukraine.
The rift between the two Orthodox churches is expected to affect all patriarchates and churches, which will be called, in due time, to clarify their own positions on the issue.
It follows a decision by Russian Church in September to abstain from structures chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and suspend all services with its top priests.
Speaking in Belarus after a meeting of the Russian Church’s ruling body, Metropolitan Hilarion, the main spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, said the Russian Holy Synod was left with no choice but to break ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The decision means priests of the Russian Church will no longer perform services with those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and members of the Russian laity will not participate in sacraments performed by churches that come under the Phanar until the “anti-canonical decisions” are reconsidered, the Russian Patriarchate said.