Zelensky backs expulsion of Christian monks — RT Russia and the former Soviet Union
Ukrainian leader believes seizing historic Kyiv Pechersk Lavra will boost ‘spiritual independence’
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky approved the order to expel the monks of the Canonical Orthodox Church of the Pechersk Lavra from kyiv, insinuating that they were agents of Russia. Moscow called on all Christian churches, as well as the UN and other international organizations, to respond to the “scandalous” decision.
“This week there is also a movement to strengthen our spiritual independence,” Zelensky said in a weekly address to the nation on Sunday evening. “We will not allow the terrorist state any opportunity to manipulate the spirituality of our people, to destroy our holy places – our Lavras – or to steal valuables from them.”
He also claimed that the measures taken by his government were “completely legal” and had the full support of the Ukrainian public.
On Friday, Ukraine’s Culture Ministry told the monks they had until March 29 to leave the monastery, saying they had breached a 2013 agreement under which the state allowed them to administer the reserve national history. Founded in 1051, Pechersk Lavra (“Monastery of Caves”) is considered the most important Orthodox Christian site in Ukraine.
Kyiv has already expelled the Canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) from two of the cathedrals above the monastery. A few days after this decision, at the beginning of January, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), created by the government, was authorized to hold services in the premises.
The monks of the UOC will “do not execute the command” leave, the abbot of the monastery announced on Monday. The head of the church, Metropolitan Kliment, had called Friday’s memo the personal opinion of a culture ministry official, with no legal status. The UOC remains in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church, but declared itself independent and condemned the Russian Church “invasion” stay in the good graces of the Ukrainian government.
kyiv’s decision to expel the monks is “unacceptable” And “absolutely unprecedented” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday. “We believe the global community should react accordingly to such an outrageous decision.”
On Saturday, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church compared the expulsion to the expulsion of Orthodox clergy under communism. Such an approach would be “lead to a violation of the rights of millions of Ukrainian Orthodox faithful”, said Patriarch Kirill, in a letter sent to the UN, heads of other Orthodox churches, Pope Francis of Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Coptic Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and others.