Ukrainians strongly distrust Moscow-connected Church


Eastern Europe


Patriarch Kirill of the Moscow Patriarchate (r.) to which also the Ukrainian Orthodox Church belongs, is known and criticised for his support of the Russian President Vladimir Putin (l.) and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo

More than half of the Ukrainians believe that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC-MP) under Moscow's leadership is contributing to Russian aggression.

That was reported by RBC Ukraine, who held a survey among Ukrainians. Around 52 per cent of respondents believe that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is acting in the interest of the Russian invaders, while 11 per cent thinks the Church is on the Ukrainian side. As of now, the UOC officially remains the largest community in Ukraine; larger than the ‘competitive’ Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

The survey was conducted from August 5 to 12, 2022, among 2,024 respondents only in those territories controlled by the government of Ukraine and where hostilities are not taking place.

Several Ukrainian regions have halted activities from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and there have been several reports of churches being forcefully closed by Ukrainians. As CNE reported earlier, there are Orthodox Christians belonging to the Moscow patriarchate that help the Ukrainian military in their fight against the Russian aggressor.

In the southern and eastern regions, perceptions toward the UOC-MP have been a different story, as reported by the Religion Information Service in Ukraine (RISU). At least 60 percent in southern Ukraine and 57 percent in the eastern part did not think that the UOC-MP “contributes to or harms the state.” Almost 50 percent (49 percent) of Russian-speakers possess similar views.

In another report from RISU, political expert, Taras Zagrodny, says that Ukraine’s security service (SBU) has found instances of Russian meddling within the UOC-MP. Recently, the SBU revealed that Metropolitan Ionafan from Vinnytsia had been inciting “Russian aggression” and “religious hatred.” Zagrodny also said that the clergy within the Moscow Patriarchate is thought to have several Russian special agents that wear the “KGB shoulder straps.”

“The searches of a Muscovite clergyman constitute a significant signal to society how the special services will tackle the church issue. There is hope that the SBU will finally purge the Russian agents in cassocks,” he said.

However, gathering additional evidence remains crucial in issuing a complete ban on the UOC-MP. Zagrodny also suggested that if Russian clergy are detained, then there should be an exchange for Ukraine’s “Azov fighters” or perhaps other POWs.

“If the SBU has managed to collect evidence for banning the Opposition Block 'For Life' Party and the Party of Shariy, then we can already work on a complete ban on the Moscow church in Ukraine.”



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