Orthodox Church clergy addresses UN over prosecution in Ukraine
One example which was evoked at the UN meeting was the revocation of Ukrainian citizenship of the Orthodox Church clergy of Ukraine.
At a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Tuesday, the Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Anthony told UN delegates of the political repression exercised against Orthodox Church clergy of Ukraine and called on the UN to intervene.
One example he evoked at the meeting was the revocation of Ukrainian citizenship of the Orthodox Church clergy of Ukraine.
"Depriving the citizenship of Ukrainian religious figures is undoubtedly a form of mass political repressions, which contradict the constitution of Ukraine and international agreements that have been signed by that state," Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Anthony said via videoconference.
He added that "In 2022 alone, 129 churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were seized. At the same time, the legal registration of its new communities was completely blocked."
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Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia, who was also present at the meeting, said that Russia has never, and will never tolerate a "Russophobic and anti-Cristian dictatorship" in Ukraine since it poses a direct threat to Russia's national security.
"Russia, as we have repeatedly underscored, will not and has never set the aim of destroying Ukraine as a state however we will not put up with a fact that a militia Russophobic anti-Christian dictatorship is being formed on our borders," he said.
Nebenzia added that Ukraine is nearing a religious disaster of immense scale and can face the worst inter-religious conflict in the history of Europe.
"Mr. President, the latest area of Kiev’s repressive policy is its war against canonical orthodoxy." he said
"Ukraine has been brought to the brink of a large-scale inter-religious conflict, which the history of modern Europe has not yet seen… Ukraine is now literally a step away from a fratricidal domestic religious catastrophe. However, the regime [of Volodymyr Zelenskyy] is simply pouring fuel into the fire," he added.
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On November 24, 2022, Russian news agency Interfax reported that Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada registered a bill calling for the imposition of a nationwide ban on the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
According to the European Solidarity Party, the bill would ban any institutions or organizations which are in part or totally affiliated to the Russian Orthodox faith from carrying out religious activities "in canonical, organizational and other issues," it said in a message on Telegram.
It further added that the bill aims to defend Ukraine's national security as it associates "the liberation of Ukraine from the Russian Orthodox Church [to] another step towards independent Ukraine."
The move towards banning the Russian Orthodox Church is possibly owed to an accusation that church members are carrying out spying activities against the Ukraine government.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine declared on May 27, 2022, its complete break up from the Russian Orthodox Church due to disagreements over Russia's special military operation.
Orthodox Bishop Kirill, who has been Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church on 1 February 2009, has backed Russia's military campaign in Ukraine, calling on supporters to rally to fight Moscow's "external and internal enemies."
Due to this, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church ceased the commemoration of Patriarch Kirill.
Following the move, the Moscow Patriarchate said he "understood" their decision to be caused by external pressure.
According to him, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church had reaffirmed its independent status acquired in the early 1990s, as only the Local Council of Kiev had the capacity to change the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox church.
However, this did not mean that it rejected its spiritual ties with Moscow, the Bishop said.
"We understand that His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy and the episcopate should act as wisely as possible today so as not to complicate the lives of their believers," Patriarch Kirill said in his first comments since the announcement.
He added that the "spirits of malice" wanted to divide the Orthodox people of Russia and Ukraine but they would not succeed.
Some bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church disagreed with the decision of the Council in Kiev to declare the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Therefore, certain dioceses, including in Donbas and Crimea, continued to practice the commemoration of Patriarch Kirill.
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