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UWC supports Ukrainian government’s efforts to liberate national shrines from the Russian Orthodox Church

#UWC news
April 6,2023 686
UWC supports Ukrainian government’s efforts to liberate national shrines from the Russian Orthodox Church

The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) supports the Ukrainian government’s current efforts to expel the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) from national Ukrainian religious and spiritual shrines, the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and the Pochaiv Lavra. The UOC-MP is a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine and subordinates to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. 

In March 2023, Ukraine’s Government terminated the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra’s lease agreement with the UOC-MP, despite the pro-Moscow priests’ attempts to incite turmoil and prompt people to block the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy (MCIP)’s commission, which ensured that all the state properties UOC-MP used remained in the monastery. Additionally, a draft resolution was registered with the Verkhovna Rada, seeking to purge the Pochaiv Lavra in Ternopil Oblast from the Moscow Patriarchate clergy and monks.  

“The international community should not fall prey to a new strong wave of Russian disinformation, which claims that Ukrainian authorities are “persecuting” somebody in Ukraine for their religious denomination or beliefs. Since Putin’s rise to power, Moscow has weaponized religion and used the Russian Orthodox Church to spread disinformation, hatred, and propaganda, particularly the toxic ideas of the so-called “Russkiy Mir” with Patriarch Kirill being one of its key ideologists,” stated Stefan Romaniw, UWC First Vice President.     

For decades, Moscow has been using UOC-MP – an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church – as one of Ukraine’s most influential soft power tools. The Church’s clergy is heavily involved in politics, supporting Ukraine’s pro-Russian parties, promoting Russian culture, and preaching contempt for Ukrainian culture, language, and the state itself. Since the start of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, many UOC-MP priests have supported the Russian military, justified the Russian military invasion, and assisted the invaders in establishing occupation authorities in the occupied Ukrainian territories.   

“We reiterate a statement made by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who said that the Russian Orthodox Church “shares responsibility for the crime of aggression against Ukraine and the resulting crimes, like the shocking abduction of the Ukrainian children,” – added Mr. Romaniw. “Ukraine has always been a country of religious tolerance, where dozens of denominations coexist peacefully and in close cooperation. However, there can be no place for a compromise when it comes to law, national security and Moscow’s hybrid aggression.”