It appears that a no-kidding schism is coming to the Church…
Wait, nope, wrong church
Probably the most under-reported story right now is the massive spat between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Archbishop of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church was originally aligned under the Russian Orthodox Church, which had originally established a form of independence called autocephaly way back in 1453 with the impending invasion of Constantinople by the Ottomans. Since then, many other Orthodox Churches have declared, or been allowed to declare, autocephaly.
The Ukrainian Church was conspicuously left off this list, until recently when the Archbishop granted them autocephaly in October. This was a huge blow to Russia’s continuing information campaign in Ukraine. It’s well known that Russia uses extensive cyber and electronic warfare methods, combined with a well run disinformation campaign when it invaded Crimea and portions of Ukraine. But the use of the Russian Orthodox Church as part of this propaganda campaign is largely discounted, likely because our relatively atheistic media doesn’t understand the huge role the Orthodox Church plays in everyday life in Ukraine.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, responded quickly by severing communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople. Constantinople has responded by dissolving the Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe. This tit-for-tat will probably continue, likely ending in a full blown schism, as referenced in a recent letter to Patriarch Kirill:
This is important for a number of reasons:
- There are lots of churches now in awkward positions, like this one in Russia. This raises the chance for violence against worshipers.
- It affects Americans, as there is a small Russian Orthodox Church, as well as a Ukrainian Orthodox Church presence in America.
- It provides opportunities for a call to reunify the Catholic Church…oh hey, a call for Christian unity!
As we go forward…this will be very interesting.
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