KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — About 1,000 Orthodox believers have rallied outside Ukraine's parliament to protest its demand that they change their church's name to reflect its ties to Moscow.
The Ukrainian church has been part of the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries, but a bitter tug-of-war following Russia's annexation of Crimea has encouraged moves toward a separate church. On Saturday, bishops from across Ukraine created a new church independent from Moscow.
Priests and believers from the Moscow-linked church gathered to protest last week's decision by lawmakers that it must change its name to reflect its connections to the Moscow Patriarchate. One of the protesters, Father Vadim, said that "our church has faced purges and humiliation."
The Moscow Patriarchate strongly condemned the creation of the new Ukrainian church, warning it could trigger sectarian violence.