02/24/2014, 00.00
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Kirill appeals for unity of Church in Ukraine. No to political interference

by Nina Achmatova
Russian Orthodox primate’s appeal - read out in all the churches of the Patriarchate of Moscow – arrives after the violence on Maidan Square and the complete change in the political situation: Tymoshenko is released, a new interim president appointed, presidential elections scheduled for May 25. For now, Russia limits itself to freezing financial aid and keeping a close watch.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - After three months of protests and violence, over the past two days Ukraine's president was deposed and new elections called. However the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, only yesterday, 23 February, launched an appeal for the Church unity and peace in Ukraine at the end of the Sunday liturgy, celebrated in the church of San Michele in Troporevo, in the Russian capital.

The primate - reports Interfax news agency - knelt at the altar and prayed to God to grant His light to minds "clouded by violence".

"For 20 years the land of Ukraine has been subjected to political struggles, the result of which was the tragic division of our Church", the Patriarch said , referring to the division of the Orthodox Ukrainians into three different realities, the result of the troubled political history of the country in the last century, still caught in a fragile balance between autonomy and ties to its Russian neighbor . These realities are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate (not recognized by other churches and opposed by Moscow), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (close to Constantinople) .

"In recent years there have been attempts to use political power to resolve the question of the Church in Ukraine - said Kirill - today, I address all the Ukrainian people: political power should not interfere in ecclesiastical matters". "Brute force can not solve the problems of the Church. Unity can not be achieved through violence - he added -The Church alone, without relying on external factors, needs to resolve these issues".

"Today, as in the past, I turn to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine who are in schism, with a call for unity - he concluded - But not that unity brought about by the change in the political situation, not that unity brought about in reaction to violence, but the unity that pours forth from a sincere desire to return to the canons, without which the Church can not exist".

Kirill's appeal was then read in all the churches of the Patriarchate of Moscow. At the end of the liturgy, prayers were said for the dead (88) from the 48 hours of violence in Kiev. Yesterday, there were kiosks and bouquets of flowers laid in memory of the fallen, the "martyrs " on the streets and Maidan square (see photo).

The uprising in Ukraine has seen an unprecedented alliance between the churches of the country. Priests and monks took to the streets to pray and attempted mediation between police and protesters, including opposition and the government.

Political situation

So far, Russia has limited itself to carefully following the situation and many wonder what President Vladimir Putin's real reaction will be.  The Russian head of state had signed an agreement for substantial economic support to prevent the collapse of the country with the now former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.  Obsevers wonder if he was waiting for the closing of the Games in Sochi, February 23 , to act. Meanwhile,  due to the deterioration of the situation" in the former Soviet republic, Moscow has recalled its ambassador to Kiev for consultations. The Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, on the phone with U.S. Secretary of State , John Kerry, complained that the opposition has not adhered to the peace agreement signed with the government and European mediators, of having essentially wrested power and of maintaining power through the use of violence. The new interim president, the speaker of the Rada (Parliament), Oleksandr Turcinov - close to the newly released, Yulia Tymoshenko - has warned that the Kremlin will have to abide by Ukraine's "European choice". Kiev - said Turcinov - intends to resume the path of integration with Brussels blocked since 24 November, when Yanukovych renounced the association pact and accepted ($ 15 billion) aid from Moscow. Turcinov - who gave deputies until February 25 to find a majority and form a government of national unity - said he was ready for dialogue with the leaders of Russia, but on the basis of equal and good neighborly relations. Tymoshenko has already ruled out wanting to return to the office of prime minister, instead indicating that she is likely to run for president in the early elections on 25 May. But many, even among the Maidan protesters, see her as being too tied to old patterns of power.

Abandoned by his Party of Regions and Russian ally - who indirectly criticizes his weak management of the crisis- Yanukovych seems stuck at the border, after which his men tried in vain to hire a charter plane for him flee abroad.

Today, the head of EU diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, is expected in Kiev, where she will meet the protagonists of the Maidan revolution and "discuss EU support for a lasting solution to the political crisis and measures to stabilize the economy" as reported in a statement. Moscow, for its part has announced the freezing of future aid, as it waits for the formation of the new government.


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