A storm brews over the formation of a new church in Ukraine

20181201_BLP509Source: The Economist

PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I (pictured), the “first among equals” in the stormy world of Orthodox Christianity, seemed like a model of composure as he prepared this week for what promises to be one of the most turbulent months in the recent history of the eastern church.

During a three-day meeting in Istanbul of the bishops under Bartholomew’s immediate sway, it was confirmed that a “unification council” will be convened in Ukraine in December in order to establish a new Ukrainian Orthodox church that will duly receive a formal grant of independence from the Patriarch. This will further enrage the ecclesiastical and worldly authorities in Moscow who insist that a church subject to the Moscow Patriarchate is the only legitimate Orthodox body in Ukraine. There is clearly some concern in Moscow that some clergy now under Muscovite  authority may peel off and join the new Ukrainian body. But it remains very unclear who will lead the new Ukrainian church and what its exact status will be.

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