Exarch of Attaleia and Side, Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia has said acts of the Russian Orthodox Church, which decided to sever relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the background of the process of granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, give joy only to the Anti-Christ.

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"My beloved spiritual children, for those of you who belong to the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia and the Exarchate of Attaleia and Side no outside Bishop, Metropolitan, or Patriarch has any right to go around or behind the back of your local Metropolitan and to give you orders – or issue threats – regarding which church you should attend and where you should receive Holy Communion. None of these hierarchs has any authority over you before Christ and His One Holy Church. If you were to disregard such prohibitions and directions, you are not culpable and should not feel any guilt," he said in a message.

The Russian Orthodox Church has previously said its priests were forbidden to serve in the churches of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and believers who prayed there should confess.

"Those who have high ecclesiastical rank are the ones who are responsible, and guilty before God, for trying – through uncanonical acts and threats – to pull you away from the Church and from your priest and Bishop, telling you neither to go to confession nor to receive Holy Communion. Acts such as these give joy only to the Anti-Christ, who fights Christ and His Church. All reasonable people are harmed deeply by such satanic efforts," the exarch said.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church ruled on October 15 to sever eucharistic communication with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople after the latter's Holy Synod on October 11 announced a decision to grant autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.