Europe

Ukraine's president calls for recognition of splinter church

  • Orthodox believers and clergymen march to prayer in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in observance of the holiday marking the adoption of Christianity by what is now Russia and Ukraine in the 10th century. They are to commemorate the day at the hillside monument in central Kiev to Saint Volodymyr, the prince who enacted the adoption of Christianity. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

    Orthodox believers and clergymen march to prayer in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in observance of the holiday marking the adoption of Christianity by what is now Russia and Ukraine in the 10th century. They are to commemorate the day at the hillside monument in central Kiev to Saint Volodymyr, the prince who enacted the adoption of Christianity. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • Orthodox nuns walk to prayer in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in observance of the holiday marking the adoption of Christianity by what is now Russia and Ukraine in the 10th century. They are to commemorate the day at the hillside monument in central Kiev to Saint Volodymyr, the prince who enacted the adoption of Christianity. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

    Orthodox nuns walk to prayer in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in observance of the holiday marking the adoption of Christianity by what is now Russia and Ukraine in the 10th century. They are to commemorate the day at the hillside monument in central Kiev to Saint Volodymyr, the prince who enacted the adoption of Christianity. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)  (The Associated Press)

The Ukrainian president has called on an Orthodox Christian leader to recognize the independence of his country's splinter church.

Orthodox Christians in Ukraine are divided between one church that is part of the Russian Orthodox Church and a splinter church under a Ukrainian leader that neither Moscow nor other Orthodox churches recognize.

President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday said he had petitioned Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered "the first among equals," to recognize the Ukrainian Church's independence which he said should help to overcome divisions in the country.

A day earlier, thousands of Russian Orthodox Christian pilgrims held a prayer in the capital Kiev at the end of a weeks-long holy procession across the country. Nationalist leaders had blocked the procession, decrying the pilgrims as traitors.