Friday, May 6, 2022

Moscow Church Won’t Survive in Ukraine Except in Isolated and Unregistered Parishes, Kozlovsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 25 – Ihor Kozlovsky, a Ukrainian specialist on religion who attracted widespread attention when he was arrested by Russian forces in the Donbass, says that Putin’s war in Ukraine and Russian Patriarch Kirill’s backing for that war have accelerated the processes of dissolution in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

            Most of the trends on view now, he says, existed earlier but have become far larger and more noticeable given the war (

            He gives as examples of this the shift in registration by both parishioners and priests from the UOC MP to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the fact that UOC priests don’t mention Patriarch Kirill in services, and the call by more than 400 religious leaders for the Pentarchy to bring Patriarch Kirill to trial and suspend his powers for as much as five years.

            According to the signers of this appeal, Kirill’s “chief sin” is his promotion of “the ideology of ‘the Russian world,’ a Nazi-like revanchist ideology which has become the foundation of the new phenomenon of Russian fascism with its promotion of aggression rather than Christian love.

            But these are mostly initiatives from below, Kozlovsky says, although there are cases in which Moscow bishops in Ukraine have been refusing to mention Kirill during services, a sign that Ukrainian Orthodox no longer view the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate as a full member of world Orthodoxy.

            The future of the UOC MP is thus anything but bright, the religious affairs specialist says. “Part of it will pass over to the autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church; but part will remain linked with Moscow and function as unregistered communities. After all, Ukrainian law allows religious groups to function without registration.

            “We don’t know how long this process will be,” he concludes; but there is no question of where the situation is heading.

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