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Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate decides not to seek compromises and fight for Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

Thursday, 23 March 2023, 11:49
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate decides not to seek compromises and fight for Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

The Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, announced its decision to protect the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra "by all legal means".

Source: address of the UOC-MP Synod

Quote: "We call on everyone to strengthen their faith, strengthen their prayers and by all legal means protect our most precious shrine – the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra."

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Details: The leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate announced the growing pressure and called on the followers of their church to "stand firm and unshakable in faith".

Church members also began to boast that they were restoring and rebuilding the structures of the Lavra, which they had been renting since 1988.

According to them, the authorities are trying to "intimidate them extensively, persuade them into some kind of ‘compromise’ and, in the end, simply destroy them".

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At the same time, the Synod of the UOC-MP hinted, recalling how thousands of believers went on a procession on the second Sunday of Great Lent after the Divine Liturgy.

Also, the leaders of the UOC-MP, in response to an appeal to "bless the spiritual work to protect our legal right and continue to pray in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra," promised that "no reason will be able to break our firm will to defend holy Orthodoxy".

"Large-scale pressure on the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is increasing, and today we turn to all of you, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, with a word of living love and a call to firm and unshakable faith," the statement reads.

Background:

  • On 10 March, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra National Reserve informed the monastery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate that from 29 March 2023, the 10-year-old agreement (dated 19 July 2013) on the rent-free use of religious buildings and other state-owned property will be terminated. The warning included a demand to vacate the buildings on 11 Lavrska Street and 15 Lavrska Street in Kyiv.
  • Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture, stressed that monks and clergy of the UOC-MP should leave all the premises of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra by the end of March.
  • The UOC-MP stated that there are no legal grounds for this. Monks of the UOC-MP refused to move out of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. 
  • On 20 March, representatives of the UOC-MP wanted to meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. When this failed, they published an appeal to Zelenskyy, calling on him not to take away the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra from them.
  • In 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine conducted dozens of searches of the premises of several churches and monasteries of the UOC-MP, including the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. As of 23 February 2023, the Security Service of Ukraine was investigating almost 60 criminal proceedings against the pro-Russian clergy of the UOC-MP. More than 350 church buildings and 850 people were subjected to in-depth checks. The courts handed down seven guilty verdicts.
  • Monks and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate have been banned from entering the caves of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra starting from 21 March while a commission assesses the state of items of cultural value.

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