Russian Orthodox Church mulls strategy on Ukraine

MOSCOW (AP) — The head of the Russian Orthodox Church is chairing a meeting of top priests to decide how to respond to Orthodox Christianity's leading body move to send two envoys to Ukraine.

The Russian church claims authority over the church in Ukraine. But many Ukrainian parishes reject the Moscow Patriarchate and have formed a separate church that is pushing for recognition as a self-governing, or autocephalous, institution.

The Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate announced last week it was sending two bishops to Ukraine as a step toward declaring ecclesiastical independence for the church there.

Patriarch Kirill strongly condemned the move during Friday's meeting of the Holy Synod and comparing to the split in the Russian Orthodox Church during the 1920s.