The Russian Orthodox Church said Monday it is breaking ties with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate over its decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian church, which Moscow does not recognize.
"A decision has been made to rupture full communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate," which means priests from the two churches cannot serve and worshipers cannot take communion together, Hilarion, the bishop in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church's diplomacy, told journalists in Minsk.
Speaking after a meeting of the Holy Synod, or decision-making body, of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hilarion said it does not recognize the decision taken last week by the Constantinople Patriarchate.
Since Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and the ensuing conflict with pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine, Kiev has been wary of the influence of the Moscow Patriarch Kirill, who is an avid supporter of Kremlin's policies.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko this year asked the Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew to make a decision in favor of an independent church for Ukraine, a prospect that the Russian Orthodox Church had rejected outright.
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