The Moscow branch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which has just broken with Russia, could no longer remain silent in the face of the compromises of the Russian patriarch with the Kremlin in the midst of an invasion of the country, its spokesperson assured on Saturday.
The day before, its Muscovite branch decided to definitively sever all ties with Russia after centuries of common history, due to a deep disagreement with its patriarch over the war in Ukraine.
Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Church, took up the arguments of President Vladimir Putin on his own, evoking a fight against the "forces of evil". opposed to the historical "unity" between Russia and Ukraine.
This position, repeated several times, caused a stir among the Ukrainian faithful who, according to Bishop Kliment, were the driving forces behind the schism.
"For years, we have been under pressure from the Ukrainian state" to separate from the Moscow Patriarchate, but "today there is a need, a demand in Church society", he said. he says.
Read alsoIn St. Michael's Church in kyiv, the prayers and bitterness of the Ukrainian Orthodox at Sunday mass
“We condemn and dissociate ourselves from the comments on Russian aggression in Ukraine made by Patriarch Kirill, insists the Ukrainian cleric in the long black robe and full beard.
Thou shalt not kill
cannot have any other interpretation (…) and it is difficult to understand the justifications or the silence of the Muscovite patriarch on the current tragedy.
But for him, it is essential that his Church remain in the pro-Russian separatist territories, "because it often serves as a bridge for the Ukrainian authorities" to negotiate "the return or exchange of prisoners of war, the delivery of humanitarian aid or other important matters”.
Part of the Ukrainian Church, represented by the Kyiv Patriarchate, had already broken with Moscow over its annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass, and pledged allegiance in 2019 to Patriarch Bartholomew, based in Istanbul.
According to Bishop Kliment, the priests of the Moscow branch do not intend to do the same.
As for relations with their Orthodox brothers, "it will depend on their position", but "their attitude is not constructive", he said, implying that a rapprochement is not imminent.
In the meantime, his Church will have to devote himself to explaining the decision to his faithful.
Coming out of the office on Saturday, opinions remained divided.