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Tensions rise over Ukraine’s new independent church

Tensions rise over Ukraine’s new independent church

KIEV: Ukrainian clerical infighting broke out into the open on Wednesday in a development that analysts say may threaten the future of Ukraine’s new unified Orthodox — to Moscow’s delight.

Honorary Patriarch Filaret, 90, called a rare news conference to accuse the young head of the newly created united church of governing single-handedly despite earlier agreements.

Ukraine is going through a sensitive transitional period after a comedian with no political experience, Volodymyr Zelensky, won a landslide victory in a presidential election last month.

For more than 300 years, Moscow controlled part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church but Kiev this year won religious independence in a huge coup for the pro-Western authorities. An enraged Russia called the move “catastrophic”, charging it would have consequences for global Orthodoxy.

The charismatic Filaret had been widely tipped to become the head of the united church but Metropolitan Yepifaniy, 40, was chosen to the post last December.

Filaret, who in 1992 established the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate independent of Moscow, claimed that Yepifaniy reneged on what he said had been agreements to lead the new church together.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019

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