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Constantinople Patriarch officially grants self-rule to schismatic Ukrainian Church

Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew has signed a decree (tomos)granting autocephaly or self-rule to the newly established Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The ceremony at St. George’s Cathedral in Istanbul was attended by top Ukrainian officials, including President Petro Poroshenko. Bartholomew announced his decision to grant Ukraine’s request for its own Orthodox Church independent from Moscow in October last year. The Russian Orthodox Church responded to the controversial move by cutting all ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. Granting self-rule to the new Ukrainian Church was “non-canonical and illegal… and will only bring trouble, division, and sin to Ukraine,” Vasily Anisimov, the spokesman for now-persecuted Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, told RIA-Novosti. The divide in the Orthodox world caused by Bartholomew’s decision may last “for decades or even centuries,” Metropolitan Hilarion, Moscow Patriarchate spokesman, said.