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Ukraine Orthodox priests to establish independent church

Ukraine Orthodox priests to establish independent church

Kiev: Ukrainian Orthodox priests will hold a historic council here on Saturday to create a new national church, a move condemned as schism by the Russian clergy.

The move comes after the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodoxy, recognised the independence of the Ukrainian Church from Moscow, the BBC reported.

In protest, the Russian Orthodox Church cut ties with Constantinople. It also fears that its 12,000 parishes in Ukraine could be seized.

The council will be held in the ancient St Sophia's Cathedral - one of Kiev's best known landmarks.

Ukrainian clerics of different Orthodox denominations - including some bishops from the Moscow branch - will be electing a leader of a new church.

President Petro Poroshenko is expected to be an honorary guest at the council. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been under the Moscow Patriarchate for centuries, the BBC said.

But tensions within the church mounted after Ukraine became independent in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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