UOC-MP priests demand to sever ties with Moscow

30 March, 11:58 PM
UOC-MP leadership near the Office of the President of Ukraine, March 20, 2023 (Photo:REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko)

UOC-MP leadership near the Office of the President of Ukraine, March 20, 2023 (Photo:REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko)

Hundreds of priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) demand the church severs ties with Moscow and puts it in writing, head of the Open Orthodox University of Saint Sophia-Wisdom, Father Georgy Kovalenko, said in an interview with NV Radio on March 30.

Kovalenko stressed that UOC-MP hasn’t actually severed its canonical administrative ties with the Moscow Patriarchate, contrary to what its leadership claims.

“Hundreds of priests of this church turned to the synod with the demand: ‘Show us the document that you officially severed (ties) with the Moscow Patriarchate,” said Kovalenko.

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“...basically, even the priests of this church demand from their leadership to finally say yes or a no, and to put it writing. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which for some reason says that it isn’t (with) the Moscow Patriarchate, hasn’t provided, shown, or accepted any official document regarding the secession with the Moscow Patriarchate.”

Kovalenko noted that the UOC-MP didn’t condemn Patriarch Kirill – the head of Russian Orthodox Church – outspoken support of Russia's war against Ukraine.

“We haven’t heard a protest from the leadership of this church about the participation of its bishop and priests in Crimea in this farce with the annexation of Ukrainian territories,” he added.

“Bishops, priests, and collaborators, who then fled to Russia after the liberation of Ukrainian territories, weren’t condemned (by UOC-MP). They got a ‘well-deserved’ rest, and now they continue to stay in Russia.”

On May 27, 2022, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church declared its “full independence” from the Moscow church and expressed disagreement with the position of Russian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Kirill.

On March 2 2022, UOC-MP priests recorded an appeal in which they called on the Synod to convene a local council of the UOC in order to withdraw from the Moscow Patriarchate.

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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