The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow decided on a complete break in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate at a meeting held, for the first time, in the Belarus capital of Minsk.

The Russian Church in a statement said that until the Church of Constantinople “annuls the illegal decisions it took, there can be no joint services with [Ecumenical Patriarchate] clergy”.

It also said that lay people are not permitted to participate in sacraments conducted by clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, through a decision of his Holy Synod last month, ceased memorialising Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in services (as the church order requires), and forbade bishops from conducting services with Ecumenical Patriarchate bishops. The Moscow Patriarchate had also withdrawn its representatives from inter-church dialogues that are presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The crisis broke out when the Ecumenical Patriarchate granted autocephaly (independence, from Moscow in this case) to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and returned to the canonical order Filaret Denisenko, who had declared himself Patriarch of Kiev in the 1990s.

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