Threatened amid accusations of collaboration with an enemy state, implementation awaits more votes, presidential signature, and judicial review. UOC leader calls it “a struggle against God.”
Ukraine’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a preliminary vote last Thursday for a bill that could ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, from operating within Ukraine’s borders.
Law 8371 would give Ukrainian authorities power to examine the connection of religious groups in Ukraine to the Russian Federation and to ban those whose leadership is outside of Ukraine. The draft law, approved by a tally of 267–15, with two abstentions, still needs to undergo a second vote, where it may be amended. It would then move to President Volodymyr Zelensky for his approval before it becomes law.
Since the outbreak of full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine, Russian Orthodox priests in Ukraine and around the world have faced accusations of spying and otherwise working to advance Russia’s political interests. Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill, a close ally of the Putin regime, has provided religious justification for the conflict in sermons and public appearances.
“The Russian Orthodox Church’s connection to the Russian Special Services has a very long history,” Oleksandr Kyrylenko, a scholar of religion and Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine, told Religion News Service.
Last month, Bulgaria expelled three of the highest-ranking Russian Orthodox priests in the country. At the same time, the FBI warned Orthodox communities in the US that Russian intelligence services may be using their churches to recruit assets.
Since the 10th century, Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians had been part of one church. The Moscow Patriarchate itself began as the Metropolis of Kiev and all Rus, the people who formed the first Russian nation.
The relationship between the …