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Greek Orthodox parish in US quits Constantinople to join Russian Church over Ukrainian schism

Greek Orthodox parish in US quits Constantinople to join Russian Church over Ukrainian schism
The US branch of the Constantinople Patriarchate is at risk of a split after self-rule was granted to Ukrainian schismatics, a Russian priest in Texas said. One Greek parish has already quit and joined the Russian Church.

The believers in the US reacted “quite differently” to the January move by Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew to grant Ukraine’s request for its own Orthodox Church independent of Moscow, Archpriest John Whiteford of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad said.

“Among the American Greeks there are those who support their Patriarch no matter what he does… Many are confused by those events. But there are voices, which are heard clearly, of those who refuse to accept the actions of the Constantinople Patriarchate in Ukraine.”

One parish in Texas where Whiteford serves at the St. Jonah Church in Spring has already cut ties with Constantinople as worshipers there simply can’t agree with Bartholomew’s decision on Ukraine, he said.

“Most of the other representatives of the local churches in North America have clearly expressed their opposition to the stance” taken by Constantinople, the archpriest said.

He also blamed the Constantinople Patriarchate of increasingly deviating from the Orthodox dogma in recent years, including some of its representatives in the US who support same-sex relations. Such a liberal course and the Ukrainian issue may cause a split in the Greek archdiocese in the US and Canada, Whiteford predicted.

“Most will stay with Constantinople because there are close financial ties. But I’m sure that there are constructive forces that put traditions and values above money that would choose to distance themselves from the Constantinople Patriarchate.”

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As for the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, it “fully supports all the actions undertaken by the Moscow Patriarchate” in response to the schism, the archpriest said.

The Russian Orthodox Church responded to the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church by cutting all ties with Constantinople and warning that the divide in the Orthodox world caused by Bartholomew’s decision may last “for decades or even centuries.”

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