Patriarch defends decision for Ukrainian church independence


Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios has defended the decision to grant independence to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the Russian Church, which has upset relations with the Moscow Patriarchate.

“We as the Ecumenical Patriarchate believe we have done the right thing. It’s a right of the Ukrainian Orthodox to also have their own independent church as all other peoples in the Balkans,” he told guests at an event at the Phanar in Istanbul on Thursday night.

Referring to the reaction of the Russian Church, which threatened a schism, Vartholomaios – the first among equals in the Orthodox Church – said, “We knew that the sister Church of Russia would be upset with this but we could do no different.”