Kyiv official asks church to call Putin and Kirill “devil”


Eastern Europe


Oleksiy Danilov said on Ukrainian TV that the Orthodox Church must make itself completely independent from Moscow. Photo screenshot Youtube

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) must not only distance itself from the Moscow Patriarchate. The church should call Patriarch Kirill “devil”, and the same for President Putin.

So said Secretary Oleksiy Danilov of Ukraine’s National Security Council on television on Tuesday. He responded to the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine that the government is allowed to ask for a rename of the UOC.

Ukraine’s rulers continue to doubt the loyalty of the clergy. They have searched its main accommodation in the capital Kyiv several times. They suspect that Russian spies are active there. For this reason, the government is considering forcing the UOC to rename itself.

The position of the UOC has been in debate since the beginning of the war in February. According to the church’s constitution, the UOC is connected with the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).

Danilev in the Rada broadcast. Photo screenshot Youtube

This connection does not mean that de UOC is subordinate to Moscow since the government system of the Eastern Orthodox Churches allows national churches to be independent. That made it possible for the UOC to condemn the Russian invasion in February undoubtedly. In May 2022, the UOC cut all the references to the Moscow Patriarchate out of its statutes. But canonically, the connection is still there. Officially, Kirill remains the Patriarch. The problem in Ukraine is, however, that he supports the Russian invasion ideologically.


For a few weeks, the Ukrainian government has been considering a ban on the UOC. According to Danilov, the church is still too tied to Moscow. “If you have no relations with Russia, then officially say goodbye and say that Russian President Vladimir Putin is Satan”, Danilov said. He also said the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is a devil.

The lease on the Kyiv-Petshersk Lavra or Cave Monastery from the 11th century, which has been designated a world heritage site by the United Nations, has been terminated. In November, Ukrainian security forces also checked at two more monasteries and other religious institutions. They say they have found much pro-Kremlin literature.


Also, the Lithuanian Orthodox Church (LOC) has distanced itself from the Moscow Patriarchate and has asked the Patriarch for independence, as the Orthodox Journalists reported on Tuesday. On paper, the connection can remain to exist, the church says.



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