Ukrainian Church officially independent

The newly founded Ukrainian Orthodox Church is now officially independent after the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew signed the decree of independence on Saturday in Istanbul. Around 27 years after gaining political independence from Moscow Ukraine has now become autonomous on religious affairs. What does this step signify in other areas?

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

A disaster for Putin

The Russian president has only himself to blame for this blow to Moscow, comments Gazeta Wyborcza :

“If Putin's term of office ended today, he would go down in history as the loser who was responsible for first Georgia and now Ukraine extricating themselves from his country's zone of influence. ... Without these 'provinces' Russia is no longer an empire, and Putin, if we take care not to demonise him, will take a place in his country's history next to Mikhail Gorbachev, who is blamed by his compatriots for the breaking up of the Soviet Union. Putin bears the full responsibility because he alone, with his arrogance towards Russia's neighbours and his belligerent adventures, has caused the decline of the empire.”

Echo of Moscow (RU) /

A war between fallen empires

Churchgoers must not allow themselves to be played off against each other, Moscow priest and philosopher of religion Andrey Kuraev urges in Echo of Moscow:

“The Ukrainian Orthodox Church doesn't need autocephaly and the Russian Orthodox Church doesn't need Ukraine. But what all Orthodox believers need is intellectual and spiritual rigour. They need to hold their tongues so as not to repeat fake news and propaganda. And when discussing the Church they need less self-praise and more critical reflection. ... What I want is for the people not to be deceived or incited to strike out or even to die in the name of ghosts. ... In the current virtual war the ghost of the long-dead Byzantine Empire is locked in battle with that of the long-dead Soviet Union. But their corpses seem to thirst for fresh blood.”

Novoye Vremya (UA) /

New Church must show stability

The struggle for independence is far from over, writes the US-based Archbishop Cyril Hovorun in Novoye Vremya:

“Both church and state diplomacy must make great efforts to ensure that the autocephalous Ukrainian church is accepted in the Orthodox world. Its [formal] recognition by the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a key event, but not enough for full legitimacy. The extent to which parishes and even dioceses of the Moscow Patriarchate become members of the independent Ukrainian Church will depend on how well it is received worldwide. Initially this process will be slow and gradual, but if the independent church demonstrates stability it will accelerate exponentially. It's important that this happens in 2019.”