Metropolitan Epiphanius, newly elected head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, conducts a service during his enthronement in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. Epiphanius has been elected to head the new Ukrainian church independent from the Russian Orthodox Church. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Head of Ukraine's new Orthodox Church assumes office

February 03, 2019 - 9:26 am

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The newly elected head of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church has officially assumed office in the capital of Kiev, a month after the church severed its centuries-long ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Epiphanius I, 40, was enthroned during a lavish service at St. Sophia Cathedral in central Kiev on Sunday, a month after the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople granted independence to a new Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who is running for re-election in the country's March 31 presidential race, and his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko both attended the ceremony.

In Moscow, the Russian Orthodox Church spokesman on Sunday dismissed the Kiev ceremony as a "pathetic spectacle."

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