Leaders of Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine shifting allegiance to Kyiv

A Ukrainian Orthodox church in the town of Irpin near Kyiv damaged by artillery of invading Russian troops. Russo-Ukrainian War. March 15, 2022 (Credit: Dattalion)

A Ukrainian Orthodox church in the town of Irpin near Kyiv damaged by artillery of invading Russian troops. Russo-Ukrainian War. March 15, 2022 (Credit: Dattalion) 

Opinion, Russian Aggression

When Vladimir Putin began his full-scale war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, he destroyed many things but none more completely than the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP) whose clergy and laity have been transferring their allegiance to the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU).

Related: How the Russian Orthodox Church enabled Putin’s war against Ukraine

That was demonstrated by a poll conducted in early March which found that most believers in Ukraine no longer wanted to be associated with a church based in the capital of the country attacking their own and were pressing the UOC MP to allow them to join the OCU.

The Moscow church has done everything it can to block this tectonic shift, recognizing that with the loss of its parishes and hierarchs in Ukraine, it will cease to be beyond question the largest Orthodox church in the world and will likely face more demands for autocephaly both in the former Soviet space and even within the Russian Federation.

But the desire of Orthodox faithful in Ukraine to leave what they see as a Russian church has become so strong that now even the leaders of key monasteries are shifting their allegiance unilaterally from Moscow and Kyiv lest they appear to the faithful as “collaborators and agents of Russia.”

Related: Ancient Ukrainian church brotherhoods as forerunner of nation’s civil society today, Horyevoy says

The latest to do so is the New Athos Monastery of Lviv whose leaders took this step for that reason and without waiting for Moscow’s blessing. That pattern seems likely to spread and accelerate the demise of the Russian church in Ukraine and the consolidation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

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