What will happen to the Moscow Patriarchate monks at Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra?
Presumably, the monks of the UOC MP will leave the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on March 29, 2023 (Photo:REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko)
Archimadrite Cyril Hovorun, a Doctor of Philosophy and professor at University College Stockholm, has told Radio NV what he expects to happen to Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) monks at Kyiv’s Pechersk Lavra when the UOC-MP lease expires.
"I would like to start with what I do not expect and would not like to expect," Hovorun said in an interview published on March 24.
“I would not like to expect a conflict – especially for the cameras, because it will be very bad for Ukraine.”
The archimandrite said that initially "there was an expectation" that part of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra’s monks would decide to stay and transfer to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on this basis.
"That is, a proposal was made that looked more like an ultimatum: ‘If you want to stay in the Lavra, then switch to the OCU’," he said.
“I understand that at first there were hesitations, certain groups of monks agreed to this proposal. But now, it seems (that no such decision has been made), the monks are going to move out.”
Though many monks support the Lavra abbot, Metropolitan Pavlo, many also disagree with him, and some of them approve of the OCU and are ready to join. At least some monks have already expressed such readiness, Hovorun said.
Hovorun suggested that their opinions changed due to the "ultimatum" nature of the proposal to join the OCU.
"We will see what happens on March 29," he said.
“At this stage, it is not possible for a part of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monks to remain in the Lavra under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
Hovorun suggested an alternative option where several monastic communities coexist on the monastery’s territory.
"Even the very idea of the Lavra is a term that comes from Egyptian desert monasticism, where several communities coexisted in the desert on the same territory," he explained, recalling that until the 17th Century, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
“This is possible in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, which is quite large. This is my proposal. It could be an OCU community, of course, including those monks who would like to move from the current monastic community (UOC-MP – ed.). It could be some kind of monastic community of the UOC, but it would be self-governing, in which lustration would be carried out among those who actively or passively support this ‘Russkiy mir’ or ‘Russian world’. And it could be a different community. For example, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as an option.”
The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine stated on March 10 that the UOC-MP must vacate all the premises it leases in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra by March 29.
In response, the UOC-MP stated that the Ministry of Culture had issued an "ultimatum" and that their demands had no legal basis.
The State Audit Service of Ukraine, after an inspection, registered the illegal transfer of cultural heritage monuments and 36 illegal new buildings, Ukrainian news website LB.ua has reported.
Metropolitan Pavlo, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra abbot, has said that the UOC-MP has no plans to leave the territory it leases from the state.
The Synod of the UOC-MP stated on March 23 that they were deprived of the right to stay in the monastery "without any reason" and that the authorities "despise and destroy shrines."
The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Reserve terminated agreements with the UOC-MP to lease the Assumption Cathedral and the Refectory Church on the territory of the Upper Lavra on Jan. 1.
For the first time in history, OCU head Metropolitan Epiphanius held a Christmas service in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on Jan. 7.
The State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience concluded on Feb. 1 that the UOC-MP remains a structural unit of the Russian Orthodox Church, despite the Church Council's declaration of "full autonomy and independence."
In 2022, the Security Service (SBU) began inspecting religious buildings ofthe UOC -MP throughout Ukraine, where they discovered anti-Ukrainian literature and symbols in many churches.
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