CWN - The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow is attempting to enlist the Vatican and other Christian bodies in opposition to proposed regarding religion in Ukraine.
The proposed laws would place restrictions on religious bodies whose leaders is based in “an aggressive state,” requiring them to recognize the geographical integrity of Ukraine and allowing the government to approve their leaders. These measures are obviously aimed at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church affiliated with Moscow. Russia, which has annexed Crimea and is blamed with fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, is recognized by that country as an “aggressor state.”
The Moscow patriarchate contends that “no religious community in Ukraine” has endorsed the proposal. But in reality the legislation is strongly backed by the Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who broke with Moscow in the 1990s to establish the independent Orthodox Patriarchate of Kiev. Not coincidentally, the legislation would require the Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Moscow patriarchate, to recognize the legitimacy of the competing Kiev patriarchate.
An AsiaNews account of the ecclesiastical skirmishing also notes the dispute over the size of the two Orthodox patriarchates in Ukraine. Moscow claims jurisdiction over twice as many parishes, but—since parishes can differ in size—survey results show that Kiev commands the allegiance of more believers. All these claims are heavily disputed.