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Tensions rise over Ukraine's new independent church

AFP  |  Kiev 

Bitter divisions among Ukraine's religious leaders were laid bare Wednesday when honorary Patriarch accused the young of the newly created united church of governing single-handedly despite earlier agreements.

For more than 300 years, controlled part of the but last year won religious independence in a huge coup for the ex-Soviet country's pro-Western authorities.

The 90-year-old Patriarch had been widely tipped to become the of the united church but Metropolitan Yepifaniy, 40, was then suddenly chosen to the post last December.

Filaret, who headed the of the Patriarchate independent of Moscow, called a conference Wednesday to claim that had reneged on agreements to lead the newly-created church together.

"There was an agreement that I continue to govern the church in together with Yepifaniy while he will represent the church abroad," he told reporters.

He claimed that Ukraine's outgoing was part of the agreement. "We did not put it in writing because I trusted both the and Yepifaniy. They lied to me," he added.

warned that the in-fighting threatened the future of the

"In order to preserve the church, agreements have to be kept," he said.

Filaret said that at first he tried to the young but refused to heed his advice and the two no longer speak now.

He added that he had a meeting with President-elect who said he would not interfere in religious affairs.

Until recently the was divided into three branches: one whose clerics pledged loyalty to Moscow, one loyal to and overseen by Patriarch Filaret and the smaller

But early this year the Istanbul-based recognised Kiev's religious independence, allowing for the creation of a unified Ukrainian Church.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 15 2019. 20:16 IST