Ukraine-Russia battle hits church

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has declared independence as Moscow warns the schism may result in its disappearance

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) voted on Friday to declare independence and autocephaly from the Moscow Patriarchate, citing disagreements with Patriarch Kirill’s place on the Russian navy operation in Ukraine. The UOC additionally proposed to resume talks with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), a breakaway entity whose institution by the Kiev authorities brought about a schism in 2018.

At a council in Kiev, nearly all of UOC bishops voted to amend its Charter “testifying to the complete independence and autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” in keeping with an announcement revealed on Friday. 

Previously a part of the Russian Orthodox Church, the UOC continued to contemplate the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia as its non secular head following Ukraine’s declaration of independence. In 2018, nonetheless, then president Petro Poroshenko backed the creation of the rival OCU. Even although solely two bishops out of the UOC’s 90 had joined the OCU, it was acknowledged by the pro-Western Ecumenical Patriarchate primarily based in Istanbul. 

The UOC has now known as for renewed negotiations with the schismatic OCU, urging it to heal the “deep, painful wound” within the physique of the Church in Ukraine. For the dialogue to happen, nonetheless, the OCU must “stop the seizure of churches and the forced transfers of parishes from the UOC,” mentioned the Council.

As a grievance in opposition to the Russian Orthodox Church, the UOC cited Patriarch Kirill’s place on the continuing Russian navy operation in Ukraine, however appealed to the governments in each Moscow and Kiev “to continue the negotiation process and the search for a strong and reasonable word that could stop the bloodshed.”

The Ukrainian church’s separatism would result in “another schism in Ukraine and the beginning of a rapid process” of UOC disappearing, Archpriest Andrei Novikov of the Moscow Patriarchate instructed TASS on Thursday.

“God forbid, if any decisions are made towards separation from the Russian Orthodox Church, this will definitely be another nationalist schism, an attempt to turn the UOC into a pocket political church of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky and the [Ukrainian Security Service] SBU,” mentioned Novikov, calling such a move fully in opposition to the custom and legacy of Orthodoxy.

He additionally famous that the bishops of some 9 dioceses positioned in territory managed by Russian troops opposed autocephaly, for which “there are no canonical grounds, but only the political expediency of the current moment for the Ukrainian authorities.”

Novikov predicts many parishes and even dioceses will go away the UOC to stay in communion with Moscow, whereas the Ukrainian authorities is not going to hesitate to take the aspect of the OCU in any disputes with the church that “defeated and betrayed its own cause.”

Nearly 80% of Ukrainians contemplate themselves Orthodox, with one other 10% belonging to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which acknowledges the Pope in Rome as its supreme chief however maintains Orthodox rites.

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