The recently formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been granted independence, marking a historic split from the Russian Church.
The Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, Turkey – the head of the global Orthodox Church – has signed a document giving “autocephaly” or independence, as reported by BBC.
The Patriarch has signed what is known as a “tomos”, a decree officially recognising an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the presence of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who travelled to Istanbul for the occasion.
It formalises an October announcement. The move has provoked a furious response in Russia, where the Church has broken off links, deepening a split in the worldwide Orthodox Church.
Ukraine’s churches have for centuries been under the authority of the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.
The decision may also lead to a lasting schism in the global Orthodox movement, says the BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Kiev, Ukraine.