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Russian Orthodox prelate decries political pressure on Church in Ukraine

Catholic World News - February 24, 2014

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has made a plea for peace in Ukraine, and denounced “attempts to use political power to resolve the question of the Church in Ukraine.”

The Russian prelate spoke on February 23 about the “tragic division of our Church” in Ukraine, and called for an end to the bloodshed wrought in that country by “minds clouded by violence.” The Russian Patriarch, whose message was read in all the churches of the Moscow patriarchate, said that “political power should not interfere in ecclesiastical matters,” and insisted that the splintered Orthodox community of Ukraine should unite.

In a potentially important related development, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow patriarchate elected a new leader, to replace Metropolitan Vladimir, who is hospitalized. The Synod announced that because Metropolitan Vladimir was determined to be “medically incapacitated,” and incapable of fulfilling his responsibilities, the Synod had elected Metropolitan Onufry to act as primate. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow patriarchate, which is allied with the Russian Orthodox Church, is one of three different bodies competing for recognition as representative of the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev patriarchate is led by Patriarch Filaret, who was excommunicated by the Moscow patriarchate when he sought to set up an autonomous Orthodox hierarchy in Ukraine after the country regained its independence from Russia. A third, smaller body, the Ukrainian Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, has ties to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. Meanwhile the leading prelate of the Latin-rite Catholic community in Ukraine, Archbishop Mieczys?aw Mokrzycki of Lviv, renewed an appeal to the faithful around the world to pray for Ukraine. “We are experiencing a great solidarity with the faithful, not only from neighboring countries, but also from the whole world,” he told Aid to the Church in Need. He said that prayers are still needed as the country’s crisis continues. At the same time, Archbishop Mokrzycki said that he saw among the people of Ukraine “a deeper sense of responsibility for the country as citizens and a deeper conscience of civic duty.”

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  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Feb. 24, 2014 7:21 PM ET USA

    Remembering those who laid down their lives, all those killed in the Kiev central square, the Ukrainians who are left, citizens and leaders, better get "a deeper sense of responsibility for the country and a deeper sense of civic duty!" The nation hangs in the balance! Some have given all they had, their lives! Now those left need unity, self-sacrifice,, very hard work and the ability to compromise and "love each other." Otherwise,the nation will die and the lives sacrificed will be wasted.

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