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Ukrainian Orthodox leader dismisses pro-Russian sentiment

Catholic World News - June 02, 2014

The secretary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has said that most people in Ukraine want to join the European community, and dismissed reports that pro-Russian separatists have wide support.

Metropolitan Alexander Drabinko told the Interfax news service: “The recent events show that most citizens of Ukraine think of themselves as part of Europe and want to live in an independent state.” Separatists in the southeast of Ukraine are isolated, he said; “the rumors of ‘Soviet mentality’ of the southeastern regions are very exaggerated.”

Metropolitan Alexander’s comments are particularly important because he represents the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Moscow Patriarchate: the branch of the Orthodox leadership that remains affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church. He suggested that affiliation could end, noting that “the creation of politically and culturally complete statehood, as a rule, leads to for the formation on its territory of a canonically self-sufficient church structure."

The Orthodox community in Ukraine split after the country won independence from the Soviet Union, with a new body, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Kiev Patriarchate challenging the group linked to Moscow. The recent tensions in Ukraine have prompted calls for the reunification of the Orthodox churches under a single independent leadership.

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