Kyiv, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for the country’s largest and oldest branch of Orthodox Christianity to be banned as long as he continues to hit back at church leaders in Moscow, proposing a new law that he said would ensure the nation would “never be the same”. Allowing anyone to build an empire within the Ukrainian soul.”
If the law is enacted, it will further strain the centuries-old spiritual relationship between Russia and Ukraine, legalizing an already deep rift in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Kyiv has long worried that Russia is using the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to provide cover for a network of secret agents aiming to undermine Ukraine from within. Over the past month, Ukrainian security agencies have engaged in a series of raids on monasteries and religious institutions looking for vandals among the clergy.
Ukraine’s security service, known as the State Security Department, has interrogated dozens of religious leaders, conducted lie-detector tests on some, and claimed to have found “literature that denies the existence of the Ukrainian people, their language, as well as their right”. Ukraine into a state.” After the raids last month, the church called accusations of collaboration between the clergy and Russia “Unproven and baseless.”
As of last month, 33 priests were arrested to help Russia since the invasion began in February, according to Ukrainian authorities. Most of them are accused of collecting intelligence for Moscow’s forces.
There are two competing Orthodox churches in Ukraine – The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Recent raids and suspicions include the latter, which is Affiliated to the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirillwho has strong ties to President Vladimir Putin and has been vocal in his support for the invasion.
He. She It had more than 10,000 parishes across the country in January, before the war, according to a parish movement tracking group. The branch declared its independence from Moscow but still formally took orders from Russia. It condemned the war, but that was not enough to allay the fears of the Ukrainian security services.
In a speech to the nation late Thursday, Mr. Zelensky proposed a law that would “make it impossible for religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence in the Russian Federation to operate in Ukraine.”
“We will ensure, in particular, spiritual independence,” Mr. Zelensky said, noting that the law is needed to ensure that Russia cannot “Manipulating Ukrainians and weakening Ukraine from within.”
Ukraine’s parliament has two months to consider the law and experts say it could face challenges in court.
The religious history of Ukraine and Russia is deeply intertwined, Orthodox Christians are in both Russia and Ukraine trace their faith back to conversion In 988 of the Grand Prince of Kyiv – known as Vladimir by the Russians and Volodymyr by the Ukrainians.
After, after The pagan prince was baptized By missionaries from Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Kyiv became the most important religious center for the people known as the Slavs.
After the Mongols sacked Kyiv in the 13th century, it fell into decline. By 1686, Russia has been invaded Eastern Ukraine, Kiev, and the Orthodox Church became subordinate to Moscow.
Efforts of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians to establish their own church and secede from Moscow were associated with the independence movements in the 1921And the 1942 And the 1992. These efforts largely failed.
But after Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 and fomented war in the east, the main spiritual guide of Eastern Orthodoxy, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, granted the Kyiv branch independence.
This step prompted Moscow to break off relations with Bartholomew. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate now includes more than 7,000 parishes.
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