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Metropolitan Alexander, like thousands of other Ukrainian clerics, faces a choice. On the one hand, he can join Ukraine's new independent church and be labeled a traitor by members of his own clergy at this cathedral in Kiev. Or, he can stay with the Moscow-headquartered Russian Orthodox Church and risk being branded a Russian agent.
As Ukraine prepares to sever more than 300 year old ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, also known as the Moscow Patriarchate, Alexander has made his decision. He believes his church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, is a tool used by the Kremlin to justify Russian expansionism.
> It is very important that people who listen to Alexander's views and to other priests, realize in what direction the Ukrainian Church is moving. For Kiev, that direction is towards reducing Russian influence in Ukraine.
And supports separatists in the Ukrainian conflict that has killed more than ten thousand people.>>
>> In October, Ukraine secured approval for a breakaway granted by the ecumenical patriarch in Istanbul, the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Christians. Moscow responded by breaking off ties with the church in Istanbul. Also called by its ancient name, Constantinople by some believers. And the faithful are every bit as divided as the priests and politicians.
The Moscow Patriarchate says the split championed by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has more to do with shoring up his support ahead of a total election next year.