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Orthodox-Catholic tensions rising in Ukraine

August 11, 2014

Religious tensions are mounting in Ukraine, with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow charging that Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholics are encouraging attacks on Orthodox priests.

The Moscow patriarchate claimed that Ukrainian Orthodox priest have been “subjected to purposeful attacks from the Greek Catholics and schismatics who maliciously take advantage of the civil commotion” in eastern Ukraine.

In Ukraine itself, the interim leader of the Orthodox Church affiliated with Moscow, Metropolitan Onufry, has also protested violent assaults on Orthodox clerics. However, Metropolitan Onufry did not blame Catholics for those attacks. The angry charges from Moscow against the Ukrainian Catholic Church reflects a long history of hostility toward the Byzantine Catholic presence in a country that the Russian Orthodox Church claims as its “canonical territory.” The Moscow patriarchate has issued several statements blaming Ukrainian Catholics for divisions within the country. Perhaps significantly, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Moscow patriarchate has not joined in those complaints.


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