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Around the World: A look into the Ukraine’s church feud with Russia

      Recently, under the shadow of political tensions over the Ukraine and its current conflict with Russia, the church is seeing a major split in an otherwise enduring tradition. Where in the west, the protestant church is characterized by countless divisions and subdivisions, in the east, major schisms are far less common as part of the character of the Orthodox church. The Orthodox church claims primacy as one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. The Church is not immune to the grander geopolitical drama, however, and the current dispute over the Ukraine is indicative of this.

      The Moscow patriarchate, which presides over most of the world’s Russian Orthodox members, is in open opposition to the patriarchate of Constantinople. While none of the patriarchs are equivalent to the Pope in status in comparison with the Catholic church, the patriarch of Constantinople is considered the “first among equals.” Constantinople declared earlier this month that the Ukrainian church is no longer under Moscow’s jurisdiction.

      The Ukrainian church has sought independence for some time now, with the ethnic split in the eastern Ukraine at the heart of both the political and religious crisis. With many favoring the split as another win for Ukrainian nationalism, others are worrying about the long lasting impact on the global church. Moscow presides over nearly 150 million people belonging to the Orthodox church, slightly over half the total church.

      In the United States and across the globalized world, the issue of the church splitting is even more complicated with all three major branches of Christianity coexisting in close proximity to one another. Christians everywhere are concerned about what this means for them and their relationship to the church as a whole.

      There is an idealized separation of church and state in the United States that is supposed to protect both the state and the church from the other’s influence. Whereas in the eastern Europe, it seems politics and war will once again cause turmoil in the church.

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