The Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced on Friday that it had separated from Russia after the latter invaded Ukraine, declaring its “complete independence” from Russian spiritual authorities, a historic initiative.
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“We do not agree with Patriarch of Moscow Kirill (…) regarding the war in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian Church explained in a press release, at the conclusion of a council dedicated to the Russian “aggression” against its country, during which it declared “the complete independence and autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” .
The branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Moscow has so far followed Russian Patriarch Kirill, who has made clear his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
The statement added that “the council condemns the war, which is a violation of God’s command, ‘Do not kill’, and expresses its condolences to all those who suffered from the war.”
According to the Church of Ukraine, its relations with its leadership in Moscow have been “complicated or non-existent” since the declaration of martial law in Ukraine.
This initiative is the second Orthodox split in Ukraine in a few years. Part of the Ukrainian Church had already split from Moscow in 2019 over the Kremlin’s role in the country.
The invasion decided by Vladimir Putin and Kirill’s support for the war put the Ukrainian Church, still associated with Moscow, in an increasingly untenable position.
Hundreds of his priests recently signed an open letter demanding that Kirill be tried in a religious court because of his positions on the dispute.
Ukraine is central to the Russian Orthodox Church, and some of the most important monasteries are located in this country.