Why It Matters: A Church Split Will Cause Geopolitical Blowback from Eastern Europe to the Middle East
A recent religious decision is expected to have incalculable geopolitical repercussions. On October 11th, 2018, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (Istanbul), head of the Greek Orthodox Church, and most elevated official in the Orthodox Christian world, announced his intention to re-establish the Orthodox Church in Ukraine under his authority. This reversed a 1686 decision to place the Ukrainian Church within the territory of Russia’s Moscow Patriarchate. Many see this as a first step to achieving an independent Church in Ukraine, something first proposed in 1917. In retaliation, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow issued an order forbidding Christians aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church from participating in religious services conducted by the Greek Orthodox Church. This matters because Church Jurisdictions, as well as political world leaders, are choosing sides, from Scotland, all the way to Qatar. Some leaders think potential blowback could compromise their own national security. This comes as Ukraine fights a now 4-year-old war in its eastern territories with Russian-backed separatists. Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, said the religious move marks an “apogee of Ukrainian sovereignty” and “an end to Ukraine’s colonized relationship with Russia.” Many call it the greatest schism in Christianity since 1054, when the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic) Churches officially split. To discuss, we’re joined by Worldview producer Julian Hayda. He’s writing his M.A. Thesis at DePaul on the intersection of political and religious life in Ukraine.