The first Ukrainian diocese in the Russian-occupied areas left the UOC and came directly under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. This is the Diocese of Rivne and Sverdlovsk in the southern part of Luhansk region. The short message on the diocese’s website is worded as follows:
The meeting of the diocesan council and the clergy of the Diocese of Rivne adopted the following decision:
1) to suspend the mention of Metropolitan Onuphrius as head of the UOC during the services;
2) The dioceses of Rivne and Sverdlovsk remain under the omophorion of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
The decision comes as no surprise, as both Russian and Ukrainian media outlets claim that in the occupied territories, Ukrainian dioceses will come directly under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, by analogy with the territories Russia wants to include within its borders. The occupied regions are joined by a “referendum” and the dioceses by a “meeting of the diocesan councils”.
This process was also discussed at the local council in Kyiv on May 27. The council even gave “operational freedom” to the metropolitans in the occupied territories to make “decisions inconsistent with the clergy.”
The Crimean dioceses and the Donetsk diocese said a few days ago that they would not apply the amended UOC statute without stating unequivocally that they were leaving the UOC jurisdiction, but this is expected.
In Russian political and ecclesiastical circles, this process is hailed as inevitable. It is explained by the fact that just as the creation of Ukraine was a “mistake”, so the existence of the UOC is a mistake that must be corrected in the annexed territories. Speeches in this spirit are numerous, for example:
Alexander Dugin – the ideologue of the Eurasian movement, the “Russian world” and the war in Ukraine: “On the UOC Council. In the current situation, no one should have illusions. There is no way we can keep the UOC in the ROC without transferring all of Ukraine to Russia. In fact, it was clear back in 2014. We just postponed it for a while. The unity of the Church can be preserved only together with the restoration of political unity. And until the complete liberation of the whole territory of Ukraine from Nazism, it is simply useless to deal with this issue…
The capitulation (of the Ukrainians) is not a good idea, because they will want to save what they have left. So we will be in the wrong place again – not on the border with Poland, Romania and Hungary, but much further east. The same things will flourish under new cover in the criminal terrorist structure. Once we started so abruptly, we definitely can’t stop now. Our task is to erase from the ground a very specific misunderstanding ”(May 30, 2022).
Deacon Pavel Shulzhenok: “The creation of the UOC was a fatal mistake and a time bomb, as much as the creation of Ukraine itself. There can be only one solution – in the liberated territories, direct subordination to the Moscow Patriarchate must be established. Kyiv itself must also be liberated. The UOC-MP is doomed in principle. “
An extraordinary meeting of the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate was held in Moscow on May 29, dedicated only to the decisions of the local Assembly of the UOC in Kyiv on May 27.
The position expressed is stronger than the one stated immediately on the day of the Kiev Council by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. The Moscow Patriarchate does not recognize the decisions of the council, insofar as they must be approved by the Moscow Patriarch. The amendments to the Articles of Association have not been considered as “not yet officially published”.
Dissatisfaction is expressed that Moscow Patriarch Kirill is not mentioned in worship in “some dioceses”. According to him, this has created division in the Ukrainian Church and contradicts church canons. The “canons of the Double Council” are mentioned in general, probably referring to Rule 15 of the Council of Constantinople (861) on bishops and metropolitans who dare to sever communion with their patriarch and do not mention it as defined and established. , his name of divine services. ” The mention of this canon is a hint of a possible strengthening of Moscow’s position.
The Russian patriarch “shows understanding and unreserved support” for the plight of pastors and Christians in Ukraine, caused by schismatics, local authorities, the media and extremist organizations. Russian troops are not mentioned as a problem.
The patriarch defended himself against accusations by Ukrainian bishops, who said, albeit in a mild form, that they “disagreed with the Moscow patriarch’s position on the war.” He said he sympathized with all those “affected by the disaster” and called for “civilian casualties to be avoided”.
In particular, today’s decision of the Moscow Synod states:
1. We express our full support and understanding for the archpastors, pastors, monks and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is under unprecedented pressure from representatives of schismatic structures, local authorities, media, extremist organizations and the nationalist part of society.
2. We call on the entire Russian Orthodox Church to pray fervently for the strengthening of our brothers in Ukraine, to give them courage and God’s help in their daily work on the Christian witness.
3. We note that the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is defined in the charter of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia of October 27, 1990.
4. We note that the amendments to the Statute of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church adopted by the Council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church must be considered in accordance with the established procedure for their compliance with the said charter and the Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to which these amendments must be submitted to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia for approval.
5. We emphasize that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, with the deepest sympathy for all those affected by the disaster, has repeatedly called for every effort to be made to avoid casualties among the civilian population and for all members of the Russian Orthodox Church to pray. sincerely for the speedy restoration of peace and to provide all possible assistance to all those affected, including refugees, homeless people and livelihoods.
6. We regret that a number of dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have stopped mentioning the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, which has already caused division in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and is contrary to Rule 15 of the Twice Council.
7. We testify that the entire Russian Orthodox Church prays for the preservation of the unity of the Church and for an end to the bloodshed as soon as possible.