Ukrainian Orthodox Church appeals to Zelenskyy to halt eviction from Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

21 March, 12:27 AM
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (Photo:UOC MP)

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (Photo:UOC MP)

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) published an appeal to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, asking him to halt plans to evict UOC-MP from Kyiv Pechersk Lavra – Ukraine’s most important orthodox monastery.

In the statement UOC-MP posted on its website, the synod of the church asks Zelenskyy not to take away the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra from them, arguing that "they did nothing wrong" and "are doing a lot of useful things" for Ukraine.

In particular, the UOC-MP claims that:

●         they educate their flock to love their Fatherland;

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●         they were the first among religious organizations to strongly condemn Russia’s military aggression and called on believers to stand up for their homeland;

●         many of their parishioners are now in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine;

●         they provide material assistance to military personnel, internally displaced persons, and other groups of the population who find themselves in a difficult position;

●         their clergy deliver humanitarian aid to settlements affected by the war;

●         they defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Ukrainian state and strongly condemn Russian military aggression against Ukraine.

The church also asked the president to prevent the adoption of several bills aimed at stopping the activities of the UOC-MP, recently tabled at the Ukrainian parliament

On March 20, members of the synod came to the Office of the President, asking to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in order to "get their point across." The president's administration met with the delegation of the Church, in order to receive an appeal, register it and submit it for further consideration. However, representatives of the UOC-MP have so far refused to hand it over, insisting on a face-to-face meeting with Zelenskyy.

On March 10, Ukraine’s Culture Ministry announced that UOC-MP must leave the premises it leases at Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra by March 29. In response, UOC-MP called this demand an “ultimatum from officials of the Ministry of Culture,” adding that such demands have no legal basis.

On Feb. 1, the State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience concluded that UOC-MP remains a structural subdivision of the Russian Orthodox Church, despite the church claiming it has “complete independence” from Moscow.

In 2022, Ukraine’s SBU security service began investigating UOC-MP monasteries throughout Ukraine, finding that many of them preach pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian propaganda to their parishioners.

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