KIEV –Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced on Wednesday that a meeting to unify the country's Orthodox churches will be held in Kiev on December 15, despite protests from Russia.
"This council will approve the charter of our new church, this council will elect the primate," Poroshenko said. The meeting will take place in Kiev's Saint Sophia's Cathedral.The Ukrainian branch of Orthodoxy has been under Moscow's control for the past 300 years.
But in a historic decision in October, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide, agreed to recognise the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's independence from the Moscow Patriarchate.
The decision sparked rage in Moscow and prompted the Russian Orthodox Church to cut all ties with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Orthodox church in Ukraine is divided between a branch whose clerics pledge loyalty to Moscow and one overseen by the Kiev-based Patriarch Filaret that Moscow does not recognise. The split deepened after Russia annexed Crimea and a separatist uprising broke out in eastern Ukraine, a conflict that has claimed more than 10,000 ---