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Many implications of Orthodox split remain unknown, says Catholic expert

“If Moscow and Constantinople will not sit down at the same table, then any theological dialogue would be with some of the Orthodox churches, not all of them,” Father Roberson said. “If the Russians are missing, that is something like half of the faithful in the Orthodox world, which is very significant.”

Calls for a single church, independent of Russian jurisdiction intensified after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has backed calls for an independent church, pledged Oct. 14 that his government would guarantee “full respect of religious freedom for believers of all denominations.”

However, he warned against Russian attempts to “fuel a religious war” by encouraging violence at Orthodox sites and said Patriarch Bartholomew had now confirmed “clearly and unequivocally the Russian Orthodox church has no canonical title to Orthodoxy in Ukraine.”

“Ukraine never was and never will be a canonical territory of the Russian church,” Poroshenko told a Sunday prayer service in Kiev’s St. Sophia Square.

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Contributing to this story was Jonathan Luxmoore in Warsaw.

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