Russian faithful reacted on Sunday to the newly christened Ukrainian Orthodox Church which has now split from the Moscow Patriarchate.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, Parliamentary Speaker Andriy Parubiy and newly elected head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox church Metropolitan Epifaniy (Dumenko) sing national anthem at the Saint Sophia's Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine on December 15, 2018.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, Parliamentary Speaker Andriy Parubiy and newly elected head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox church Metropolitan Epifaniy (Dumenko) sing national anthem at the Saint Sophia's Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine on December 15, 2018. (Reuters)

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, didn't address the creation of the church during a service on Sunday in Zvenigorod outside Moscow.

But his spokesman, Father Alexander Volkov, said the only challenge the Russian Church could offer was to speak the "truth about the oppression of believers, the violations of legal constitutional rights of Ukrainian citizens, those who will vote for Poroshenko or against him in March of next year."

"We (the Russian Orthodox Church) don't have some regiments or armies that could be sent somewhere.

We have no political tools that allow to use resources and to force Ukraine's authorities to act (properly). All this is impossible for the Church. But the Church has another (instrument) – the Church has the opportunity to speak the truth loudly from any podium " added Volkov.

Political analyst Maria Lipman said the vote to approve the creation of the church, aimed at unifying Ukrainian Orthodox believers under one roof, was certain to anger authorities in Russia.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made the creation of the new church a key campaign issue, and on Saturday stressed that Ukraine had seized "spiritual independence, which can be likened to political independence."

He added that an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church was now a matter of national security.

The Russian Orthodox Church has protested vigorously against Kiev's attempts to create an independent church and has called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect Orthodox believers in Ukraine.

Source: AP