Iglesia Ortodoxa

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, left, and Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, conduct a service after presenting the “Tomos,” a scroll containing the decree, in a symbolic ceremony sanctifying the Ukrainian Church’s independence from the Russian Orthodox Church at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul, earlier this month.CreditCreditLefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

On Jan. 5, some 150,000 people lined up in front of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. They came to see a single document called a tomos, issued a few days before by the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew. There, on a piece of parchment, written in ornate Greek, English and Ukrainian, were words that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church had dreamed about for centuries: The document made the Ukrainian Church autocephalous, meaning it is now fully independent from Moscow.

This declaration of independence came about despite months of behind-the-scenes attempts by the Kremlin and Russian Orthodox Church officials to dissuade Patriarch Bartholomew from issuing a tomos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, left, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill tour the Kremlin in May 2010. The Russian Orthodox Church warned Sept. 28 that it would sever ties with the leader of the worldwide Orthodox community if he grants autonomy to Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. (AP)

On Oct. 11, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople — the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide — started a process to grant independence to a Ukrainian Orthodox Church seated in Kiev, freeing it from the control of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. The decision has touched off an intense political storm, and threatens to open a new — and possibly violent — front in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Here’s why.

A brief primer on the Orthodox Church

Unlike Catholicism, Orthodoxy does not have a centralized hierarchy with a pope-like authority figure. Rather, it’s composed of 14 autonomous churches, each of whose authority generally coincides with the national borders of countries with large Orthodox populations.…  Seguir leyendo »