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The Russian Orthodox Church has cut ties with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all of Africa Patriarch Theodore II after he recognized the independence of Ukraine’s church from Moscow.

Russia’s Holy Synod also decided on December 27 to abolish the Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Moscow and convert it into a Russian church.

The Russian church’s decision follows Theodore’s recognition of the Ukrainian church during a service he held in Egypt in November.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople — generally considered the spiritual headquarters for Orthodoxy — granted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine independence in January, ending more than 300 years of control by Moscow.

The new Orthodox Church of Ukraine installed its first metropolitan, Epifaniy, at a ceremony in Kyiv on February 3 in a process that further established the new church body’s independence.

However, the Ukrainian church has struggled to win recognition from other Orthodox churches, making Theodore’s act significant.

The Russian Orthodox Church previously severed ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate for recognizing the Ukrainian church’s independence.

However, the Russian Orthodox Church maintains full relations with the Metropolitans of Alexandria, who did not recognize the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Based on reporting by AFP and Orthodox Times