Ukrainian journalist points out religious war at the World Council of Churches

09-09-2022

Eastern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Ukrainian journalist Ivanna Illina at the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe. Photo Facebook, Ivanka Illina

There is not only an ongoing war between two political states in Ukraine. In addition, there is also a battle between two orthodox churches. That is what the young Ukrainian journalist Ivanna Illina drew attention to at the World Council of Churches assembly.

For eight minutes, Illina pointed out how the conflict divides the two Orthodox Church denominations in her country. Her speech can be viewed on Facebook. "Courageous soldiers give their lives for their native land, and at the same time, believers who pray for them are driven out of churches by their compatriots, supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church", she said during her speech, as reported by Dialogtut.

In Ukraine, the Orthodox Church is split into two. First, there is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) which belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate and falls under the responsibility of Patriarch Kirill. Kirill has been criticised heavily for his support of the war. Secondly, there is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which falls under the Constantinople Patriarchate with Patriarch Bartholomew. Since Bartholomew granted the OCU independence, there has been a struggle between the two churches. Currently, the OCU blames the UOC for collaborating with the Russians. Therefore, several municipalities have attempted to ban the activities of the denomination.

Illina points out that churches are seized by force. "Our people are being kicked out of their churches. These are unacceptable criminal actions that violate the Constitution of Ukraine." She argues that there is no reason for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to persecute its brothers and sisters of the Moscow Patriarchate. "The Ukrainian Orthodox Church daily proves that it is the historical and traditional Church of the Ukrainian people. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the UOC has been helping refugees and all those in need", she says, according to Sphz.news. For example, the Church offers shelter to refugees in churches and monasteries and supplies uniforms to the Ukrainian army.

Unknown conflict

According to the young journalist, only a few people know about Ukraine's religious conflict. In an interview with Dialogtut, she says that many World Council of Churches attendees approached her afterwards to ask her for more details. "They expressed empathy and sympathy. It is difficult for a believer to understand how such aggression can be shown."

Illina adds that the topic is very painful for her as she comes from the Rivne region, where the incidents occurred several times. "We hope to see a peaceful religious future in Ukraine: in communication and dialogue."

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