Tensions between Russia and Ukraine spill over to Byzantine world of Orthodox church


Source: The Washington Post

 For centuries, the golden cupolas of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastery and catacombs have been a refuge of tranquility and prayer in Orthodox Christianity. It is now caught in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia as it spills into the world of faith.

What is at stake is whether the Ukrainian church can formally break away from Russia’s control and become a new autonomous branch among Orthodoxy’s more than a dozen churches.

But it also reflects the wider battlegrounds of nationalism and political identity that helped touch off a separatist uprising in pro-Moscow areas of eastern Ukraine more than four years ago. Fighting has claimed more than 10,300 lives, and Moscow in 2014 annexed Crimea from Ukraine in a move that has brought international denunciations.

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