Moscow, Kiev in tug-of-war over religious future of Ukraine

1Source: Associated Press

By RAPHAEL SATTER

LONDON (AP) — As Kiev and Moscow clash on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, a new front has opened up in the religious sphere.

Earlier this year Ukrainian’s president launched a campaign to persuade Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, seen by many as the first among equals of Eastern Orthodox leaders, to grant Ukrainian clerics full ecclesiastical independence from the Russian Orthodox Church to which they have been tied for hundreds of years.

Ukrainian politicians see such a declaration, known as a “Tomos of Autocephaly,” as a key step in consolidating their country’s national identity. Russian religious leaders see it as an attack on Christian Orthodox unity and are fighting to stop it.

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