Schism between the Orthodox rises as Constantinople endorses Ukrainian Orthodox autocephaly; ROC says “catastrophic decision”

Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill


A rift has been brewing in the Eastern Orthodox world between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).

It has now gotten worse:

Russia aggressively reacts to Constantinople’s decision on autocephaly of Ukrainian church

12 October 2018
Moscow has aggressively reacted to news from Istanbul regarding the autocephaly of the Ukrainian church. The Kremlin sees the decision of Constantinople as the legalization of a split in the world of Orthodoxy, the Ukrainian TV news service TSN has said. The Russian Church threatens to sever ties with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, while the Moscow Patriarchate threatens to impose an anathema on him.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian Orthodox Church will have to break eucharistical relations with Constantinople over a split with Ukraine’s Orthodox Church, Alexander Volkov, spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, was quoted as saying by Interfax on Thursday. 10/11/18

KIEV/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Ukraine secured approval on Thursday to establish an independent church in what Kiev says is a vital step against Russian meddling in its affairs, but the Russian clergy fiercely opposes as the biggest split in Christianity for a thousand years. 10/11/18

12 October 2018

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has agreed to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a move immediately hailed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko but slammed as “catastrophic” by Moscow.

A synod meeting in Istanbul chaired by Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is considered the leader of the 300-million-strong worldwide Orthodox community, or “first among equals” of Eastern Orthodox clerics, decided on October 11 to “proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.”

The synod, however, made sure to warn against violence and attempted property takeovers.

The move, which comes amid a deepening row in Orthodox Christianity over the Ukrainian Church’s bid to formally break away from Russia’s orbit, was hailed by President Petro Poroshenko as “something that we have dreamed of, waited for a long time, and fought for all the time.”

But the Russian Orthodox Church condemned the decision as “catastrophic.”

“Today the Patriarchate of Constantinople has made catastrophic decisions — first and foremost regarding itself and global Orthodoxy,” a spokesman for Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, Aleksandr Volkov, said in televised remarks. “The Patriarchate of Constantinople has crossed a red line.”

Earlier, Kirill was quoted as saying that his church will “have to break eucharistical relations with Constantinople” following the decision.

I reported about this brewing rift a couple of times this year (see Alexander Zakharchenko buried and Patriarch Bartholomew may have upset Patriarch Kirill on Ukraine and Russian Orthodox Church cuts ties with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople over Ukraine).

Although Ukraine’s political leadership has hailed the decision, many are not pleased with Constantinople’s move and various ones have not accepted it.

Local Orthodox Churches are not supporting the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople’s move to grant independence (autocephaly) to the Ukrainian Church, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk told reporters on Wednesday.
“Different responses are coming in. Some churches are openly speaking out in favor of convening a pan-Orthodox conference, while others have taken a pause. However, I have not seen a single statement from any local churches in support of Constantinople’s unilateral actions, which were announced and carried out (by Constantinople) without the consent of Local Orthodox Churches,” His Eminence Hilarion stated when asked about the response by local churches to developments in Ukraine. 01/10/18

It should be mentioned that most of the Eastern Orthodox are actually Russian Orthodox.

Yet, the Patriarch of Constantinople has long been considered the “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox world. The current Patriarch Bartholomew has accepted an ecumenical agenda that many of the Greek Orthodox do not like (for details, see Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? (And the Protestants)).

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has long maintained a close working relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church.

So, what will happen?

There will continue to be tensions between Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church.

But their is a meeting planned for next week:

12 October 2018

“The Russian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod will come up with a proper assessment of this act at its upcoming meeting on October 15 in Minsk,” he told Izvestia.

According to Roman Lunkin, Director of the Institute for Religion and Law, “by its decision, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is preparing a meeting of the council, which will ask (Patriarch) Bartholomew to provide the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church,” Kommersant quotes him as saying.

The expert pointed out that the opinion of the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches and other churches, which supported Patriarch Kirill’s stance, had been ignored. “Constantinople deemed it possible to unilaterally revise church borders,” he stressed.

“Bartholomew may face enmity and rivalry from the Russian Orthodox Church and other churches on its canonical territory, namely, in Turkey, Western Europe, the Middle East and the US,” Lunkin went on to say. “Constantinople’s actions can also provoke an Orthodox parade of sovereignties. South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Montenegro, Macedonia and African countries can demand autocephaly for themselves. The collapse, which will shake the whole Christian Orthodox world, will begin.”

We will see if this meeting will help the ROC and Constantinople come closer together or farther apart.

The Russian people basically support Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill on Ukraine, so most in Russia would tend to be willing to accept ties being cut with Constantinople over this.

Both the Patriarch of Russia and the Patriarch of Constantinople believe they can point to historical reasons why Ukraine should be under their patriarchy (see Both sides basically can claim history supports their view.

Perhaps I should mention that both Patriarchs Bartholomew and Kirill have a decent relationship with the ecumenical Pope Francis. Pope Francis wants ecumenical unity and he wants the ROC and Constantinople to get along. He may try to intervene.

Yet, irrespective of this current rift within the Eastern Orthodox world, I believe that, in the future based on biblical prophecies (e.g. Revelation 13), and for a time, the Russian Orthodox will go along with some of Constantinople’s ecumenical plans. But I also believe, based on prophecies such as in Jeremiah 50, that the Russians and the Russian Orthodox will one day turn against the Beast power that will arise in Europe.

The announcements by the Russian Orthodox, in my view, are establishing a precedent for the future when Russia and various of its allies will turn against the rising Babylonian Beast in Europe.

Bible prophecy shows that Russia will lead a massive empire in the time of the end (Jeremiah 50:9,11,41-43; Isaiah 13:1, 17-19). Russia is also developing more powerful weapons (see Will Russia’s ‘Satan 2’ destroy Texas or France?). Vladimir Putin has been considered the “defender of the faith” (see also Vladimir Putin is seen as defender of the Russian Orthodox faith) and he has made statements that suggest he believes that he is.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that the Bible shows that the USA and its closest allies will fall, but not by Russia (cf. Daniel 11:39; see also USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses).

Russia has a prophesied place as a military power–ultimately it will help defeat the Beast power in Europe that will arise and one day takeover the world (Jeremiah 50:9,11,41-43; Isaiah 13:1, 17-19; cf. Daniel 11:44).

For a time, Russia will likely have a treaty with Europe (cf. Revelation 13:3-4.8 and Ezekiel 27:13-14)–but this will not last (cf. Daniel 11:44). Ultimately, the Bible shows that a Russian-influenced coalition will destroy much of Europe (Jeremiah 50 & 51). However, that will not happen until towards the end of the ‘Day of the Lord.’ An event well over seven years in the future from now (see When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? The ‘Day of the Lord’?).

The current rift between Kirill and Bartholomew does not mean that Constantinople and Russia will not cooperate ecumenically in the future–they will, no matter what they say in the near term.

But that future cooperation will not last.

The announcement that the Russian Orthodox are willing to completely cut ties with Constantinople is proof that it will be willing to do so in the future. And that is something I have long expected.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Russia and Ukraine: Their Origins and Prophesied Future Russia in prophecy. Where do the Russians come from? What about those in the Ukraine? What is prophesied for Russia and its allies? What will they do to the Europeans that supported the Beast in the end? There is also a video sermon available: Russia in the Bible and in Prophecy and a video sermonette available: Ukraine in Prophecy?
Is Russia the King of the North? Some claim it is. But what does the Bible teach? Here is a link to a video, also titled Is Russia the King of the North?
Ezekiel 38: For Russia & Iran in Our Day? Is Ezekiel 38 about to be fulfilled? A related video is available titled Ezekiel 38: For Russia, Ukraine, & Iran Now?
The Eurasian Union, the Kings of the East, and Bible Prophecy Is there a Eurasian union that will be formed? Is one being formed right now? Are any leaders working on that in the 21st century? Does the Bible teach that there will be a Eurasian union? If some type of Eurasian union is formed, who might it benefit and who will it destroy? A related video would be Is The Eurasian Union Rising?
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Who is the King of the North? Is there one? Do biblical and Roman Catholic prophecies for the Great Monarch point to the same leader? Should he be followed? Who will be the King of the North discussed in Daniel 11? Is a nuclear attack prophesied to happen to the English-speaking peoples of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? When do the 1335 days, 1290 days, and 1260 days (the time, times, and half a time) of Daniel 12 begin? When does the Bible show that economic collapse will affect the United States? In the Spanish language check out ¿Quién es el Rey del Norte? Here is a link to a video titled: The Future King of the North.
USA in Prophecy: The Strongest Fortresses Can you point to scriptures, like Daniel 11:39, that point to the USA in the 21st century? This article does. A related sermon is titled: Do these 7 prophesies point to the end of the USA?
When Will the Great Tribulation Begin? 2018, 2019, or 2020? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Is this the time of the Gentiles? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord? Who are the 144,000? Here is a version of the article in the Spanish language: ¿Puede comenzar la Gran Tribulación en 2018 o 2019? ¿Es el Tiempo de los Gentiles? You can also see the English language sermon videos: The Great Tribulation from the Mount of Olives and Can the Great Tribulation begin before 2020? A shorter video is: Can the Great Tribulation begin in 2018?
The Times of the Gentiles Has there been more than one time of the Gentiles? Are we in it now or in the time of Anglo-America? What will the final time of the Gentiles be like? A related sermon is available and is titled: The Times of the Gentiles.
Armageddon Who is involved and when will this gathering happen? Here is also a video from Dr. Thiel, from Tel Megiddo in Israel: Armageddon. Another video is: watch Is China paving roads to Armageddon?
Satan’s Plan Does Satan have a plan? What is it? Has it already been successful? Will it be successful in the future? Here are links to a two-part sermon series: What are Some of the Parts of Satan’s Plan? and Satan’s Plan is More Dramatic than Many Realize.
Mystery of Iniquity What is the mystery of iniquity? How did it start? How will it end? Two related sermons are also available: The Mystery of Iniquity and The Mystery of Lawlessness.
Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed? See also World Council of Churches Peace Plan.
The ‘Unpardonable Sin’ and ‘Climate Change’? On September 7, 2016, Olav Fykse Tveit, Church of Norway Pastor, and the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, essentially declared that those who ignore ‘climate change’ are committing the ‘unpardonable sin’ and the Holy Spirit. Are those two even related? In this video, Dr. Thiel answers that and explains from the Bible what the ‘unpardonable sin’ is and how you can avoid it. He also discusses aspects of Christianity and the environment. This is a video.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]
United Nations: Humankind’s Last Hope or New World Order? Is the UN the last hope for humanity? Or might its goals end up with sinister results? Two related videos include UN’s ‘New Universal Agenda’ is a False Gospel! and United Nations and Vatican Are Planning the New World Order.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and a video sermon is also available: Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper compromise.
Laudato Si: Pope’s Agenda or Kingdom of God? Pope Francis’ 2nd encyclical is titled ‘Laudato Si.’ In it, he goes over his views related to environmental, economic, social, moral, agricultural, and spiritual issues. He advocates international cooperation to solve various problems he believes are affecting humanity. Is that Pope’s agenda the solution? What about the Kingdom of God? does the Bible teach? Two related articles include Laudato Si: Will Pope Francis’ economic actions match his words? and Laudato Si: A call for a one-world government?

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