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Ukraine church scrutiny receives plaudits, but there is concern about overreach

The Eastern Orthodox Christians' holiest site, the Monastery of Caves, also known as Kiev Pechersk Lavra, can be seen in an aerial view taken through the morning fog at sunrise on Saturday, November 10, 2018, in Kyiv, Ukraine. On Tuesday, November 22, 2022, the Pechersk Lavra monastic complex, one of the most well-known Orthodox Christian sites in the nation's capital, Kyiv, was searched by members of Ukraine's counterintelligence service, police, and National Guard after a priest there made positive remarks about Russia, the country that had invaded Ukraine, during a service.

Other images released by the SBU agency, some of which were taken as recently as Wednesday, are clear; some show an armed Ukrainian officer standing in front of a church, while another show bulky, camouflaged officers interrogating clergy with long beards and cassocks. 

Following a schism in 2019, there are now two main Orthodox churches in Ukraine, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed measures on Friday largely aimed at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Even though the UOC announced its independence from Moscow in May, the difficulties of Eastern Orthodox Christianity make such a declaration easier to speak than to implement. In addition, a lot of Ukrainians doubt that their country is truly free of Moscow.

Additionally, he requests an examination of the "canonical" relationship between the UOC and the Moscow Patriarchate, the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the standing of the revered Pechersk-Lavra monastery in Kyiv, which is now government-owned but primarily utilised by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Additionally, the government imposed restrictions on its abbot, another wealthy churchman, and many bishops who were in Russia or regions of Ukraine that were under Russian control.

The situation is a test of the new republic's resilience in the face of Russian aggression and in its capacity as a pluralistic nation that upholds religious freedom. The two competing Orthodox churches compete for the support of the nation's predominately Orthodox people, which elevates the stakes.

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  • 14
  • December
  • 2022

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