Source: The Guardian
Donald Trump seems strangely in awe of Vladimir Putin. Theresa May’s attempts to face down the Kremlin after Salisbury have had limited impact. But has Putin finally met his match in Bartholomew I, the 270th archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, ecumenical patriarch, and “first among equals” of the Eastern Orthodox church?
In the 2,000-year struggle between church and state, Barth-olomew chalked up a notable victory last week. Defying protests from the Kremlin and Russia’s clergy, the archbishop granted Ukraine’s wish to establish an independent church that will no longer answer, as it has since 1686, to the Moscow patriarchate. The decision was taken at a synod at Orthodox “headquarters” in Istanbul, formerly Constantinople.
This was about more than ecclesiastical rivalries. Bartholomew faced intense pressure from Ukrainian believers and their secular brethren to grant autocephaly (independence). Politicians in Kiev say the Moscow patriarchate is a vehicle for advancing Russia’s influence, normalising its 2014 annexation of Crimea and justifying Putin’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.