President: Ukraine's new church throws off Russia's chains

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, third right, his wife Maryna, second right, and his son cross themselves during the service marking Orthodox Chr

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, third right, his wife Maryna, second right, and his son cross themselves during the service marking Orthodox Chr

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, center, his wife Maryna, left, and his son, right, attend the service marking Orthodox Christmas and celebrating

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, center, his wife Maryna, left, and his son, right, attend the service marking Orthodox Christmas and celebrating

Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, leads the Christmas service in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, Ukrai

Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, leads the Christmas service in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, Ukrai

Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko react with believers af

Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko react with believers af

Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, second left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko react with belie

Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, second left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko react with belie

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivers his speech next to the "Tomos" decree of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine during the servi

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivers his speech next to the "Tomos" decree of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine during the servi

People react after the service marking Orthodox Christmas and celebrating the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church out of the St. Sophia Cath

People react after the service marking Orthodox Christmas and celebrating the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church out of the St. Sophia Cath

Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, leads the Christmas service in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, Ukrai

Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, leads the Christmas service in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, Ukrai

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attends the service marking Orthodox Christmas and celebrating independence of Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the S

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attends the service marking Orthodox Christmas and celebrating independence of Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the S

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the establishment of an Orthodox Church independent of the Russian church is a major step toward moving out of Russia's shadow.

On Christmas Day, which Ukrainian Orthodox believers celebrated on Monday, Poroshenko attended services in the capital's Sophia Cathedral. The service came a day after the leader of the world's Orthodox, Ecumenical Partriarch Bartholomew I, presented a decree recognizing the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Previously, the Ukrainian church that was tied to the Moscow Patriarchate was considered canonical, or legitimate.

"This is the foundation of our spiritual freedom. We have torn off the last chains that tied us to Moscow with its fantasies of Ukraine as a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church," Poroshenko said.