The Russian-aligned wing of the church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was planning a compulsory shutdown by the Ukraine culture ministry. As a result, the head of the Orthodox Church in Russia, Patriarch Kirill, urges church leaders to prevent cutting ties with Russia.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church to be Forced Closed by the Ukraine Culture Ministry

On Saturday, Mar. 11, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church called religious authorities and international organizations, asking them to make every effort to prevent the forced closing of the monastery, which could violate the rights of millions of believers in Ukraine. The US News reported that as per the statement made by the church, the appeal is dedicated to a wide variety of world leaders, including Pope Francis, Pope Tawadros, the leader of Egypt's Coptic Church, the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, as well as the secretary-general of the United Nations Antonio Guterres and the United Nations human rights chief, Volker Turk. Kirill provided robust support for Russia's incursion of Ukraine. 

As mentioned, the Ukraine Culture Ministry asserts that it has severed all ties with Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate and is currently the target of a political witch chase. Since October, the Security Service of Ukraine has routinely searched churches affiliated with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. It imposed penalties on the church's bishops and financial backers and started criminal cases against dozens of its clergy members. The patriarch expressed his sorrow that Ukrainian worshipers' rights and liberties were being violated.

According to The Jerusalem Post, on Friday, Mar. 10, the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv issued an order mandating that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) leave the complex of monasteries where it holds its headquarters. It is the most recent action taken against a denomination that the government claims are pro-Russian and works in conjunction with Moscow. The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture has given the Ukraine Orthodox Church until Wednesday, Mar. 29, to leave its 980-year-old Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery compound. Moreover, most Ukrainian Orthodox adherents belong to a different denomination of the faith, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, established four years ago by the union of branches independent of Moscow's authority.

Also Read: Russian Invasion in Ukraine Destroyed At Least 494 Religious Buildings

Russian-aligned Wing of the Church, Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Based on an article from the European Council on Foreign Relations, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) maintained a significant influence in Ukraine for a very long time. It accounts for one-third of all the parishes in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is opposed to being referred to as the "Moscow Patriarchate," citing that its headquarters are in Ukraine. However, it has long resisted pressure from the Ukrainian side to embrace autocephaly, most notably in 2000 at the same Sobor (bishops' council) of the Russian Orthodox Church that canonized Nicholas II and his family. 

Accordingly, the Maidan Revolution, which took place in February 2014, marked the beginning of establishment of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Volodymyr, the relatively ecumenical patriarch of the UOC-MP, passed away in July of the same year. He was succeeded by Onufrii, a more radical figure who was a staunch supporter of Vladimir Putin's re-imperializing 'Russian World' doctrine. This event took place amid broader geopolitical tensions.

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