Ukrainian Orthodox leaders break with Moscow hierarchy

Ukrainian Orthodox leaders break with Moscow hierarchy

The leaders of the Central Branch of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine have made a formal break with the hierarchy in Moscow, widening the schism in a church that was already divided before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said it disagreed with the position that Patriarch Kirill I, the leader of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, had taken on the war, according to a statement posted on Friday by the council s Facebook page.

The Russian military forces invading Ukraine have been blessed by Patriarch Kirill. Many Ukrainians dying under the onslaught are his followers because he is the spiritual leader of the church in both countries. He hasn't condemned attacks on civilians.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church had formally maintained its allegiance to Moscow until now.

The Moscow Patriarchate has been under the wing of the Moscow Patriarchate for centuries, and its departure will reduce the size of the patriarch's flock because Ukrainians are more likely to attend the church than Russians.