KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s president has signed a bill that orders the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to change its name to reflect its ties to Moscow.
The Ukrainian church has been part of the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries, but some Ukrainian orthodox clerics, with government support, have moved to set up a separate independent Orthodox church in Ukraine. The move comes amid Ukraine’s disputes with Moscow after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday signed the bill ordering the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to explicitly indicate its link to the Moscow Patriarchate in its name. He says that would make it easier for Orthodox believers to choose between the new independent church or an Orthodox church still tied to Moscow.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has strongly protested the bill, calling it unconstitutional.