Ukraine will not ban the Moscow-oriented church


Eastern Europe


Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Ruslan Stefanchuk. Photo Facebook

There will be no ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine for the time being.

As parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk told the news portal RBC Ukraine, it was agreed upon not to pass a law that would divide society given the current war.

Opposition politicians had introduced two different bills to ban the pro-Moscow church. They argued that the church was sabotaging the Ukrainian state and collaborating with the Kremlin. The parliament speaker said that the Ukrainian government “will deal with all the drafts after the victory.”

Now, he said, the focus was on uniting the people. “During the war, we don’t have the right to accept even one law that disunites the Ukrainian society.” The effect of such a thing would be negative.

President’s advisor was against

In March 2022, several draft laws to ban the UOC were registered in the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. One of them was authored by Oksana Savchuk, an MP of the Ivano-Frankivsk region, whose regional centre has only one temple of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Union of Orthodox Journalists reports.

The advisor of the President’s Office, Mykhaylo Podoliak, was critical of the idea of banning the UOC and urged not to speculate on issues of faith. In a recent poll, a slim majority of Eastern Ukrainians (51 per cent) favoured a ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Another 21 per cent were not in favour of banning the church but argued that subsidies for the church should be cut off and that rental contracts for places of worship should be terminated. One in five respondents (20 per cent) rejected interference in religious affairs, the German press agency Idea sums up.

Kirill supports Putin

The Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is widely seen as a supporter of Russian President Putin. The church leader justified the war against Ukraine.

In contrast with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC, under the Moscow Patriarchate) is very critical of the military operation in the country. The church’s news site constantly reports about the help from this church to the Ukrainian army. Also, the leading Metropolitan Onufry expresses himself very critical of the war.

Stefanchuk. Photo Facebook

Of the Ukrainians, about 60 per cent describe themselves as Orthodox Christians. In addition to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, there is the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine (UCO). This church functions under the spiritual leadership of Metropolitan Epiphanius and belongs to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.



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