Ukrainian Orthodox Christians Formally Break From Russia

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The patriarch called on the new metropolitan not to exclude any believers from his church, including those loyal to Moscow, and urged him to build bridges and unite the people, said an official from the patriarchate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in keeping with protocol.

“The Orthodox Church had 14 independent churches, and today it has 15,” said Nikolas Papachristou, a spokesman for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “Together they create our Orthodox Church.”

Church and national leaders in Ukraine had been pressing for self-governance for the church for 30 years, since Ukraine became independent with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Metropolitan Epiphanius said in a speech during the ceremony.

“With the support of the Ukrainian state and our president, the separation has been eliminated, and the unity has been restored.”

The Tomos, read out during the signing ceremony on Saturday, declares that the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, representing the Holy Synod of Ukrainian bishops, should turn to the Patriarchate of Constantinople for all decisions in the future.

“In this way, the affairs of the church in this country will be governed, as proclaimed by the divine and holy canon, freely and in the Holy Spirit, without hindrance, without any other external influence,” it said.

Mr. Poroshenko, the Ukrainian leader, expressed his appreciation on Twitter. “Thank you to the millions of Ukrainians around the world who prayed for the establishment of the Single Local Orthodox Church,” he wrote. “Thank you to the generation of Ukrainians who dreamed about this day.”

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