Russian church in Ukraine works “for the enemy”, Ukrainian Metropolitan says


Eastern Europe


Metropolitan Epiphanius says that all churches from the Moscow Patriarchate are in fact enemies of the Ukrainian state. Photo EPA, Sergey Dolzhenko

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) from the Moscow Patriarchate “works for the enemy”. That says Metropolitan Epiphanius of the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

In a lengthy interview with LB.ua, he states that the Moscow-oriented church is not independent. “It is clear that they are part of the Russian Orthodox Church, an integral part, as both Metropolitan Onufriy in Kyiv and Metropolitan Anthony, the manager of affairs, are members of the Holy Synod of the ROC. It is as if our Prime Minister and the Minister of the Cabinet were members of the Russian government.”

It is not that they are Russians, he admits. “Most of them, I am convinced, are patriots. Unfortunately, there are those who openly work for the enemy. And this is such a common stain on the entire structure of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. And because they are silent, do not communicate with society, it seems that everyone there is working for the enemy.”

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), though, has been very much in favour of the Ukrainian government. From the church’s website News.church.ua, it’s clear that the church supports the Ukrainian army. Also, Metropolitan Onufriy condemned the war and compared it with the battle between Cain and Abel.

Epiphanius is not impressed by this. “They try to pretend to be an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but this is not the case.”

Moscow still has largest group

The Moscow-oriented church UOC is still the largest religion in Ukraine. The church has 12,000 parishes and several monasteries, schools and other institutions. They have contact with the Patriarchate in Moscow.

Metropolitan Onufriy from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). Photo Sergey Dolzhenko

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) has been independent since 2019 and stays in contact with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The OCU has 7,000 parishes and also a number of schools and monasteries.

Epiphanius does not say whether he supports the proposed ban on the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. “The Ukrainian state is called to protect Orthodox Ukrainians from Russian influence. But this must be formulated correctly; it should not sound like a ban, but like the protection of the Ukrainian state. Because we are at war, the state is called to protect all areas of its existence. If we do not do this now, we will not win.”

Fire in church

Whilst Metropolitan Epiphanius was speaking, there was enormous turmoil here and there in the country itself. On Monday morning, in the village of Verkhnyaya Yablonka in the neighbourhood of Lviv, a church building of the UOC was burned down. On Sunday, it was offered to the parishioners to “leave the UOC” of the Moscow Patriarchate and join the OCU of Metropolitan Epiphanius. This is reported by the Union of Orthodox Journalists.

The church in the village was a wooden temple of 2021, so relatively new. The people in the town had decided against the transition.

Regional ban on church

In the Dubno district of the Rivne region, several deputies want to ban the activities of the Moscow Patriarchate, as the Union of Orthodox Journalists reports. The district council will organise hearings on this issue.

Church in Italy switches

Not only in Ukraine but also abroad, Orthodox parishes are leaving the Moscow Patriarchate. According to Orthochristian, the Holy Cross Church in Udin in Italy has switched its jurisdiction from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The step follows the news of what happened in places like Bucha and Mariupol. “All this has clearly shown that the Patriarch of Moscow can no longer be considered either the Father or Patriarch of Orthodox Ukrainians”, the local priest Volodimir Melnichuk explains.

Last month, the church in Amsterdam in Holland left Moscow.



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