The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I strongly criticized the Russian Patriarchate of Moscow on Tuesday regarding the issue of the independence of the Ukrainian Church.
The already-cool relations between the two Christian Orthodox Patriarchates were completely severed a few months ago, when the Ukrainian Church received the status of “Autocephaly,” or Independence, from the Russian Church.
Ukraine’s Orthodox Church had been subservient to the Moscow Patriarchate ever since the early seventeenth century.
As Greece’s Kathimerini daily reports, Bartholomew stated that the Ecumenical Patriarchate ”is always a source of light and hope that doesn’t go out, neither with winds that once blew from the east and west, nor with the icy winds blowing from the steppes of the north.”
This language seems to be referring to the history of the Patriarchate and how over the centuries it has withstood pressure from the Catholic Church, then the Ottomans — and now the Russians.
”The truth about Ukraine will prevail,” the Patriarch reportedly noted in an emphatic manner.
Following the grave deterioration in relations between Russia and Ukraine, and the open war which broke out in 2014, the tortured relations between the two nations inevitably entered the sphere of religious affairs in recent years.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is considered to be ”First among equals” in Orthodox Christianity, something which confers on it the jurisdiction to decide which Church can become independent, or autocephalous.
The Moscow Patriarchate vehemently opposed such a status for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and has even threatened to declare a complete schism with the Church of Constantinople if the confrontation deepens any further.