Vartholomaios, Ukraine president sign cooperation agreement

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have signed an agreement of cooperation and coordination between Kiev and the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The pact was signed after a meeting between Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, and Poroshenko in Istanbul on Saturday. It is designed to accelerate the granting of autocephaly, or self rule, to the Church of Ukraine.

"I am sure the autocephaly decision will lead to unity and unification of all Orthodox believers in Ukraine," Vartholomaios was quoted as saying. Poroshenko described the day as "historic."

Last month, a synod chaired by Vartholomaios endorsed Ukraine's request for an autocephalous church. The move has angered the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church, which compared it to the Great Schism of 1054 that split...

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