Amid mounting tensions with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate is preparing to formally grant independence to the Church of Ukraine from Moscow in an Epiphany Day ceremony.
More specifically, Patriarch Vartholomaios will on Sunday give the tomos – the formal decree of autocephaly – to Metropolitan Epiphanius in Istanbul.
In his New Year address, Vartholomaios described the decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian church as the most important event in 2018 for Orthodoxy. “The sole purpose of our efforts is for normality to return to the Ukrainian church,” he said.
However, the decision has led to a rift between Russian Patriarch Kirill and Vartholomaios, prompting Moscow to establish an exarchate for Western Europe based in Paris and a diocese of the Russian Church in Madrid to serve the needs of the Russian flock in areas under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.