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Ukraine moves to create its own Orthodox church out of Russia's orbit

Ukraine moves to create its own Orthodox church out of Russia's orbit

Postby smix » Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:11 am

Ukraine moves to create its own Orthodox church out of Russia's orbit
NBC News

URL: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ukra ... -s-n947451
Category: Politics
Published: December 14, 2018

Description: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko believes the potential outcome of Saturday's meeting represents an “opportunity that arises once in a millennium.”
One of Christianity's biggest splits in centuries is expected to be formalized this weekend as Ukraine moves to create a new church independent from Russia's influence. It’s estimated that more than 70 percent of Ukrainians — or nearly 32 million people — identify as religious. The overwhelming majority of them are Orthodox Christian. But they don’t all pray in the same churches. There are currently three separate branches of the Orthodox church in Ukraine, including one under the control of the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. But in the wake of Russian aggression along Ukraine’s eastern border and its annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Ukrainian government has been working to reduce Moscow's role within the country. On Saturday, officials from the three bodies are due to meet to agree on the new independent Orthodox church's charter and elect its leader. The gathering comes at a time of escalating military tensions between the two countries following Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has been a proponent of the formation of the new church, accusing the Moscow-backed faction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of being a tool of the Kremlin to spread propaganda and foster Russian expansionism. “The creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox church is a necessary attribute of nation-building,” Poroshenko told Ukrainian channel ICTV, adding that a chance at religious independence is an “opportunity that arises once in a millennium.” However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has branded Poroshenko's efforts a “gross interference of the government in the affairs of the church.” Poroshenko addressed such sentiments in a tweet this month, saying that “believers will choose for themselves which churches they will go to." However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested Russia would move to “protect the interests of the faithful” in Ukraine “just as Russia defends the interests of Russians and Russian speakers." Peskov said any measures would be diplomatic in nature and would follow only if there are religious prosecutions. However, such language sparked alarm in Ukraine because it's similar to the justification previously used by Russian President Vladimir Putin for Moscow-backed interventions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in both Russia and Ukraine and is seen as one of the few remaining unifying forces between the two nations. Russia and Ukraine trace their Orthodox Christian roots to the same event — the conversion of pagan Prince Vladimir the Great to Christianity in 988. Experts say Saturday represents one of the biggest Christian splits since the Great Schism of 1054 created what are now the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches. Saturday's meeting follows a promise in October by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, seat of the global spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians, to grant autocephaly — or self-governance — and allow the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox church. That decision was met with indignation by the Russian Orthodox Church, which called the move “unlawful” and “politically motivated.” But the Rev. Cyril Hovorun, a Russian Orthodox priest and professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, says the independence of the Ukrainian church has become an important security issue in the wake of Russian aggression. “The Orthodox Church was instrumentalized by the Kremlin for political purposes, and autocephaly is supposed to neutralize this negative influence,” Hovorun told NBC News. Securing religious independence from Russia would be "as significant as the disintegration of the USSR for Ukraine," wrote Taras Kuzio, a nonresident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, in a piece for the Atlantic Council. This, he said, would be "the last step Ukraine needs to take in order to become truly independent." The Moscow-controlled branch of the church denies it is a security threat to Ukraine and says it has done much to promote peace in the country’s east. Critics of the plan for an independent Ukrainian church warn it could lead to violence and forced takeovers of churches loyal to the Russian branch. On Friday, the Russian Orthodox Church appealed to Pope Francis, the United Nations and several European leaders to protect the clergy of the Moscow-affiliated branch from facing “humiliating searches,” detentions and interrogations at the hands of Ukrainian authorities. Roman Lunkin, an expert in theology and director of the Center for Religion and Society Studies at the Institute of Europe in Moscow, said that "fighting around churches, disruption of worship, pickets and seizures of buildings" appeared inevitable. But Hovorun, the L.A.-based academic, characterized Saturday's meeting as a unique opportunity. “The church leaders need to put aside their ambitions and establish a new church, which will contribute to the consolidation of the Ukrainian society,” he added.
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Russian Orthodox Church Asks UN, Western Leaders For Help In Ukraine

Postby smix » Sat Dec 15, 2018 6:20 pm

Russian Orthodox Church Asks UN, Western Leaders For Help In Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

URL: https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-orthodo ... 56026.html
Category: Politics
Published: December 14, 2018

Description: The Russian Orthodox Church has called on international leaders to "protect" its followers in Ukraine in the face of what it called official pressure on Moscow-appointed clerics. In a statement issued on December 14, the Russian Orthodox Church said Patriarch Kirill has sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Thomas Greminger, the secretary-general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis, and other spiritual leaders, urging them to help protect believers and their faith in Ukraine. "The interference by the leaders of the secular Ukrainian state in church affairs has recently assumed the shape of undue pressure being exerted on the bishops and priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which can be defined as the start of all-out persecution," Patriarch Kirill was quoted as saying in the statement. The statement was issued a day before a meeting on December 15 of senior figures from Orthodox Christian communities in Ukraine in Kyiv in a bid to form a new, unified, independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church and elect a leader, known as a Primate. The meeting could be a crucial step in years of efforts to create a church in Ukraine that is independent of Moscow. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate said on December 13 that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the "first among equals" in the global Eastern Orthodox faith, will hand over a "tomos" -- a decree granting autocephaly, or independence -- to the future head of the local Orthodox Church in Ukraine on January 6. Ukraine currently has three main Orthodox denominations: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which remained subordinate to Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and two breakaway entities -- the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Bartholomew announced the decision to recognize Ukraine's request for an autocephalous church in October. The announcement by Bartholomew, who is considered the leader of the 300-million-strong worldwide Orthodox community, came amid deepening tension over efforts by Ukrainian Orthodox churches to formally break away from Russia’s orbit. It also prompted the Russian Orthodox Church to announce days later that it was ending its relationship with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in protest. The developments have added to tensions between Kyiv and Moscow, already high since Russia's 2014 seizure of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Moscow-backed separatists. The Moscow Patriarchate has announced that its representatives will not attend the December 15 gathering.
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Russian Orthodox church calls on UN for help in Ukraine

Postby smix » Sat Dec 15, 2018 6:29 pm

Russian Orthodox church calls on UN for help in Ukraine
Fox News

URL: https://www.foxnews.com/world/russian-o ... in-ukraine
Category: Politics
Published: December 14, 2018

Description: MINSK, Belarus – The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect believers in Ukraine in the face of pressure on Moscow-affiliated clerics. Ukraine's Orthodox clerics will gather for a meeting Saturday that is expected to form a new, independent Ukrainian church, and Ukrainian authorities have ramped up pressure on priests to support the move. The Ukrainian church has been part of the Russian Church for centuries, while enjoying broad autonomy, but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has pushed for the creation of an independent church. The newly formed community would then be expected to receive independence from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based institution considered the so-called "first among equals" of leaders of the world's Orthodox Churches that has already drafted a charter for an independent Ukrainian church. The Russian Church said on Friday that its Patriarch Kirill has sent a letter to the U.N. secretary-general, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other spiritual leaders, urging them to help protect the clerics, believers and their faith in Ukraine. Merkel's spokeswoman and the German foreign ministry spokesman said they didn't immediately have any information on the letter. As church tensions have grown, Ukraine's Security Service has searched Russian Orthodox churches and the homes of Russian Orthodox priests in several cities. The agency also has summoned dozens of priests for questioning. Ukrainian authorities have sought to portray Russian Orthodox priests in Ukraine as supporting Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, claims that the clerics have rejected. Kirill's letter accused the Ukrainian government of hate speech and pressuring the clerics to take part in the Saturday gathering. "The numerous instances of discrimination against the Ukrainian Church (of the Moscow Patriarchate) give us the reason to fear far worse infringements of the rights and legitimate interests of Orthodox believers," the letter said. In Kiev, about 100 people led by a Moscow-affiliated cleric were holding prayers near the Ukrainian parliament Friday morning to protest the creation of a new church. Some voiced fears that authorities will seize churches from the communities under the Moscow patriarchate and give them to the new church.
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Kremlin says new Ukrainian church being used for political ends

Postby smix » Wed Dec 19, 2018 12:55 am

Kremlin says new Ukrainian church being used for political ends
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukra ... SKBN1OG14H
Category: Politics
Published: December 17, 2018

Description: MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Monday accused Ukraine’s politicians of using the creation of a new Ukrainian Orthodox church independent of Moscow for political ends. Ukraine chose the head of a new national Orthodox church on Saturday, marking a historic split from Russia which its leaders see as vital to the country’s security and independence. “In Ukraine, these processes, this schism-creating activity is completely mixed up with politics, which of course is probably not allowed in church canon,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
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