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27 Jul, 2008 22:18

Orthodox seniors close ranks to stop divisions

Orthodox Christian leaders from around the world are in Ukraine to mark the 1,020th anniversary of ancient Russia’s conversion to Christianity. Patriarch Alexy II of all Russia and Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Constantinople, held a joint liturgy.

The main celebrations took place on Sunday, with religious leaders from fifteen Christian countries taking part.

During the festivities, the most senior figures in the Eastern Orthodox Church joined forces to reject a bid by the Kiev patriarchy to join the three branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and move it out of the Moscow Patriarchy’s orbit. 

Both Alexy II and Bartholomew called for unity amid an ongoing dispute which has seen some Ukrainian religious leaders calling for a separate Orthodox church of their own with the backing of the country’s President Viktor Yushchenko.

Alexy II had stated that he would not serve a liturgy alongside the Rakolniki – the Dividers. Earlier Patriarch Bartholomew rejected the plea to create a separate Ukrainian National Church under Constantinople’s jurisdiction.