KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the establishment of an Orthodox Church independent of the Russian church is a major step toward moving out of Russia's shadow.

On Christmas Day, which Ukrainian Orthodox believers celebrated on Monday, Poroshenko attended services in the capital's Sophia Cathedral. The service came a day after the leader of the world's Orthodox, Ecumenical Partriarch Bartholomew I, presented a decree recognizing the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Previously, the Ukrainian church that was tied to the Moscow Patriarchate was considered canonical, or legitimate.

"This is the foundation of our spiritual freedom. We have torn off the last chains that tied us to Moscow with its fantasies of Ukraine as a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church," Poroshenko said.