The Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church announced on Friday that it was breaking with Russia after the latter invaded Ukraine, declaring “its full independence” from Russian spiritual authorities, a historic initiative.
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"We do not agree with the Muscovite Patriarch Kirill (...) regarding the war in Ukraine", explained in a press release the Ukrainian Church, at the end of a council devoted to "the Russian "aggression" against her country, during which she pronounced "the full independence and autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church".
The Moscow branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has so far been subordinate to Russian Patriarch Kirill, who has made clear his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin's offensive against Ukraine.
"The council condemns war, which is a violation of God's command 'Thou shalt not kill', and expresses its condolences to all who suffer because of war," the statement added.
According to the Church of Ukraine, its relations with its Moscow leadership had been "complicated or non-existent" since martial law was declared in Ukraine.
This initiative is the second Orthodox schism in Ukraine in a few years. Part of the Ukrainian Church had already broken with Moscow in 2019 over the role of the Kremlin in the country.
The invasion decided by Vladimir Putin and Kirill's support for the war had placed the Ukrainian Church, still attached to Moscow, in an increasingly untenable situation.
Hundreds of his priests had recently signed an open letter calling for Kirill to be tried by a religious tribunal because of his positions on the conflict.
Ukraine is central to the Russian Orthodox Church, some of the most important monasteries of which are located in this country.