The two most powerful figures in the Orthodox Church have celebrated mass together in Kiev, amid deep divisions within the Church. Orthodox Patriarch Bortholomew I has seen a growing religious dispute between the Russian church and Ukraine which wants its own independent branch.
The Russian Patriarch Alexiy II dismisses that as causing a schism within the church, and Moscow has accused Ukrainian leaders of interfering in religious affairs. But President Viktor Yushchenko is an ardent believer, and sees the creation of a Ukrainian Orthodox church as vital to the building of a national identity.
Bartholomew has called for unity but, unlike the Pope, he has little but moral authority and cannot impose his will on national churches.