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Ukrainian Orthodox Church elects new leader in time of crisis

Catholic World News - August 13, 2014

The bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow patriarchate have elected Metropolitan Onufry, as their primate, succeeding Metropolitan Vladimir, who died in July.

Metropolitan Onufry had been the acting leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox body. He assumes the permanent post at a time when the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is under heavy pressures.

The Ukrainian Orthodox community is the largest and most active of the local churches traditionally affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church. But since Ukraine won independence, the local Orthodox leadership has split. In 1992 Metropolitan Filaret, who had been recognized by Moscow as the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, established a newly independent Kiev patriarchate, which Moscow has refused to recognize.

Strains within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been increased by the recent political conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The Moscow patriarchate has taken a strongly pro-Russian line, and charged the Ukrainian Catholic Church with stirring up political unrest. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, under Metropolitan Onufry's leadership, has kept a prudent distance from Moscow's statements.

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