For centuries, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been subordinate to Russia’s. But on Orthodox Christmas Eve 2019, the spiritual head of Orthodox Christianity in Istanbul granted official recognition to an independent Ukrainian branch of the church, with a patriarch in Kyiv rather than in the Russian capital. Independence for the church has plunged relations between Ukraine and Russia to new lows.
St. John the Theologian Cathedral is one of only a small handful of parishes in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, that has joined the newly independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Some churchgoers travel from across town to attend services here. While many parishes in the country's west have joined the newly independent church, the vast majority in the east remain affiliated with Moscow.
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