Russian patriarch complains to Pope, UN about ‘illegal expulsion’ of monks from Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

12 March, 06:05 PM
Patriarch Kirill (Photo:REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov)

Patriarch Kirill (Photo:REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov)

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has appealed to Pope Francis and other religious and civilian leaders over restrictions put on the historically Russian-aligned wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

In particular, the Patriarch has complained about the termination of the lease agreement for churches on the territory of the Lavra monastery complex in Kyiv, the press service of the Russian Orthodox Church said on March 11.

Patriarch Kirill claimed that pressure had been put on the monks in the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra before a final decision was made on their expulsion was made.

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“The repression is also a months-long defamatory information campaign involving state media and TV channels for the monastery, as well as radical politicians, clergy, and public officials – with calls for the community to withdraw from its use and even forcibly confiscate it,” the pro-Kremlin Patriarch said.

The Patriarch claimed that Kyiv's order for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) to leave the monastery complex of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra caves before March 29, published by media, "is notable for its lack of sufficient legal justifications."

He called on the world community to "make every effort to prevent the forced closure of the monastery, which will lead to a violation of the right sof millions of Ukrainian believers."

The message was delivered to the heads of local orthodox churches, Pope Francis, Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, Dr. Jerry Pilla, Council of Europe Secretary General Maria Pejcinovic-Burich, U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk, director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Matteo Mecacci, and others.

The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine said on March 10that the UOC-MP must leave all the premises it rents in the Kyiv Cave Monastery by March 29.

The State Audit Service of Ukraine conducted an inspection of the Kyiv Cave Monastery National Reserve, which revealed the illegal transfer of cultural heritage monuments for use and 36 illegal new buildings.

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