Patriarch Kirill: No independent church in Ukraine

I get the impression from the article, that the Russian Orthodox Church is seeking to keep Ukraine oriented towards Moscow. Is this accurate?

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church rejected calls from Ukraine’s president to create a local Orthodox church that would be independent from Moscow, saying he firmly supports the status quo.

Patriarch Kirill arrived in Ukraine for a prolonged visit, which observers say is aimed at reasserting Moscow’s religious and political influence over this predominantly Orthodox nation of 46 million, which is trying to integrate with the West.

President Viktor Yushchenko has led a campaign to win recognition of a separatist church that broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate in the 1990s.

The Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the Kremlin, worry about losing dominance in Ukraine.

The mainstream, Moscow-aligned church claims about 28 million believers, while the separatist Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate claims about 14 million followers. Opinion polls show the splinter church’s popularity is growing.;_ylt=Arv5Hc_JVlM.M5XcUOA7Y7Q7Xs8F;_ylu=X3oDMTM3amluc3RsBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwNzI3L2V1X3VrcmFpbmVfcnVzc2lhX29ydGhvZG94X2NodXJjaARwb3MDMwRzZWMDeW5fcGFnaW5hdGVfc3VtbWFyeV9saXN0BHNsawNwYXRyaWFyY2hraXI-

Yes absolutely accurate. Ukrainians on a per capita (for lack of a better term) basis have always according to polls been more religious than Russians. Indeed, the Russian Orthodox Church, during the Soviet Union, had its highest density of believers in Western Ukraine (Halychyna) because these peoples’ native Church and its hierarchy were brutally liquidated by Stalin and the K.G.B. so western Ukrainians were forced to attend the state-enforced Russian Orthodox Church just so they could attend any mass. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, these believers returned to their original Ukrainian Catholic Church.

However, the rest of Ukraine is predominantly Orthodox and divided by allegiences to either Kyiv’s own Orthodox Patriarch (not recognized by Constantinople) or to Moscow’s Imperial Patriarch (recognized by Constantinople). To most nationally conscious Ukrainians, the Ukrainian Church subservient to Kiril and Moscow is seen as an Imperial and Russifying 5th Column in Ukraine. You will note from the article that the Russian Patriarch at the memorial to Ukraine’s famine victims (in which 5-7 million Ukrainians died in a Moscow orchestrated genocide by Stalin) failed to mention the famine’s genocidal nature but merely added that Russians died too. (which is the position Putin takes on the Famine too).

The Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian Federation is increasingly seen by even secular commentators as a tool of Putin’s Chekist state (the Russian Patriarch stands at attention when Putin enters the National Duma to give a State of the Union).

Ukraine remains the largest Orthodox nation on earth not to have its own independent Orthodox Patriarch, simply because Russia is afraid of losing Ukraine and because of Russian threats to the Greek Patriarch. So the Ukrainian Patriarch Filaret of the Kyiv Patriarchate is, while a religious Ukrainian patriot, not recognized as canonical by Constantinople but Ukrainians are nevertheless growing in allegiance to him and his Church as opposed to far-away Moscow’s Church.

The Russians are worried that Yushchenko (Ukraine’s President) or the Kyiv Patriarch may finally, in talks with the Greek Patriarch, get recognition for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv) as the one true canonical Orthodox Church on the territory of Ukraine and not the Moscow Church. Until then, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church subject to Moscow’s Kiril basically just proclaims to its faithful what Moscow, Putin, tell it: West bad, NATO bad, Catholics bad, Ukrainian independence bad.

A sad and complicated state, but Moscow has been of really little help in seeking dialogue (i.e. Pope would like to visit Patriarch in Moscow but never invited by Moscow - some Christian ecumenism). It’s Russian imperialism basically but on the spiritual plane. The irony of course was that Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, was the East Slavic Centre of Christianity before Moscow had even appeared on the map but was a merely a swampy town.

It seems, Kirill’s visit would fail in gaining new members to his Church, as people there are already determined, to which confession they are to belong. This will result in making no sence in his ‘pilgrimage’, and even worse, it shows that the Orthodox (even Slavic) don’t have concord and will never have one.
I’d like him to sit in his church and pray instead.

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