Moscow-led Ukrainian Orthodox Church sever ties with Russia

Members of a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church attend a council meeting at St. Panteleimon Monastery, as the branch discusses severing its ties with the Russian Church over the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 27, 2022. Picture taken May 27, 2022. Ukrainian Orthodox Church/Handout via REUTERS

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KYIV, May 28 (Reuters) – A branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that remained loyal to Moscow after a schism in 2019 said it would break with the Russian Church following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine received permission from the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians around the world to form an independent church from Moscow in 2019, largely ending centuries of religious ties between the two countries.

However, many parishes, especially in eastern Ukraine, have chosen to remain faithful under the umbrella of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate.

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Following a meeting of its leaders, the church announced that it would declare its “full independence” from Russia.

“The council approved the corresponding additions and amendments to the Statute on the Management of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, indicating the full autonomy and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” he said in a statement Friday evening.

The statement condemned Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine and the support of Patriarch Kirill, the Russian church leader, for what Moscow calls his “special military operation” to fight anti-Russian nationalists. . Ukraine claims the full-scale invasion was unprovoked.

A 2020 survey by the Kyiv-based Razumkov Center found that 34% of Ukrainians identified themselves as members of the main Orthodox Church of Ukraine, while 14% were members of the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Prior to Friday’s decision, more than 400 parishes had left the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate following the invasion.

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Reporting by Max Hunder and Conor Humphries

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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