Ukrainian Christians celebrate their first Christmas under an independent church


By I.B., N.S. and ERASMUS | KIEV AND VLADIMIR

IN BOTH Ukraine and Russia, where most Christians follow the old calendar and therefore celebrate the Nativity of Christ on January 7th, this was a Christmas like no other, whether for ordinary folk or for the high and mighty.

Snow was falling on the green domes of Kiev’s Saint Sophia cathedral, a building that goes back to the dawning of Slavic Christianity a millennium ago, as Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and Metropolitan Epifaniy, primate of a freshly constituted church, walked together towards the ancient doors. They were carrying a document or “tomos” granting the new church independence from Moscow; they had received it in a series of elaborate ceremonies over the weekend in Istanbul, at the behest of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Orthodox hierarch whose predecessors inspired the Slavs to become Christian.

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