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    » 02/24/2014, 00.00

    UKRAINE - RUSSIA

    Kirill appeals for unity of Church in Ukraine. No to political interference

    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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    See also

    28/07/2009 RUSSIA
    Yuscenko: Ukraine wants a national church independent of Moscow
    The long pastoral visit of the leader of the Orthodox Church in Moscow begins in the midst of disagreement among the faithful in Ukraine, divided in three different churches. Kirill maintains that there is already an independent and national Orthodox church in the country; the one recognized by Moscow.

    07/08/2009 RUSSIA - UKRAINE
    Kirill’s visit ends. Patriarch relates outcome to Medvedev
    In his 10-day visit in Ukraine, the Patriarch of Moscow repeatedly stressed the profound spiritual unity of the Rus. For Vsevolod Chaplin the Russian Orthodox Church goes far beyond the political borders of the Russian Federation. But there are religious and political problems.

    05/07/2014 UKRAINE - RUSSIA
    Moscow Patriarchate: Metropolitan Vladimir, primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has died
    He was the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox church, obedient to Moscow since 1992. Ill with cancer he was replaced in February by Metropolitan Onufry, who now faces the great challenge posed to the Church by the Maidan protests. The risks of a split from the Moscow Patriarchate.

    23/02/2015 UKRAINE - RUSSIA
    For Ukrainian Church, even the pope calls the conflict a civil war, something Kyiv does not acknowledge
    The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church press service appreciates the "shared position" with the Church of Rome on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He attacks the government, wondering whether it will now accuse the pope of being a subversive and ban him from the country.

    21/03/2014 RUSSIA - UKRAINE
    Crimea annexation frightens Patriarch of Moscow
    Kirill not present for Putin's great speech to the Duma. While Russia follows in the footsteps of the empire of Ivan the Terrible, the Orthodox Churches of Ukraine are pushed towards autonomy by Moscow. The Moscow Patriarchate risks being a minority in the next pan-Orthodox Council.



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