Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew signs ‘Tomos’ granting independence to Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has signed a decree granting autocephaly, or independence, to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, ending more than 330 years of Russian religious control in Ukraine. The ceremony on January 5 in Istanbul, which is considered the spiritual headquarters of Orthodox Christianity, was attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The decree, or “tomos,” will now be handed over to the head of the new Ukrainian church, Metropolitan Epifaniy, on January 6, completing the two-day spiritual ceremony. Bartholomew said Ukrainians could now enjoy “the sacred gift of emancipation, independence, and self-governance, becoming free from every external reliance and intervention.”

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