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Moscow patriarchate seeks allies in battle against restrictive legislation in Ukraine

May 26, 2017

The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow is attempting to enlist the Vatican and other Christian bodies in opposition to proposed regarding religion in Ukraine.

The proposed laws would place restrictions on religious bodies whose leaders is based in “an aggressive state,” requiring them to recognize the geographical integrity of Ukraine and allowing the government to approve their leaders. These measures are obviously aimed at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church affiliated with Moscow. Russia, which has annexed Crimea and is blamed with fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, is recognized by that country as an “aggressor state.”

The Moscow patriarchate contends that “no religious community in Ukraine” has endorsed the proposal. But in reality the legislation is strongly backed by the Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who broke with Moscow in the 1990s to establish the independent Orthodox Patriarchate of Kiev. Not coincidentally, the legislation would require the Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Moscow patriarchate, to recognize the legitimacy of the competing Kiev patriarchate.

An AsiaNews account of the ecclesiastical skirmishing also notes the dispute over the size of the two Orthodox patriarchates in Ukraine. Moscow claims jurisdiction over twice as many parishes, but—since parishes can differ in size—survey results show that Kiev commands the allegiance of more believers. All these claims are heavily disputed.

 
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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: JDeFauw - May. 28, 2017 8:32 PM ET USA

    If the Moscow Patriarchate is so concerned about the cause of religious liberty, will it also come to the defense of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, whose religion has been banned in Russia?

  • Posted by: Gregory108 - May. 27, 2017 5:08 AM ET USA

    Why is the Moscow Patriarch trying to involve the Pope in Ukraine? Doesn't he himself, the Patriarch of Moscow, keep saying over and over over that Ukraine is "not the Pope's Canonical territory?" If Ukraine falls outside the Pope's Canonical Territory, why is Kiril asking his input? Isn't he afraid the Pope might engage in "impermissible proselytizing" if he intrudes in Ukraine?

  • Posted by: [email protected] - May. 26, 2017 11:28 PM ET USA

    The devil is truly at work. These issues are political not religious. Been formenting for years.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - May. 26, 2017 8:53 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis should be pleased as the Ukrainians are using legal means rather than war to resolve the problem.