Ukraine (MNN) — The Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam has announced a split with Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Moscow Patriarchate, on the other hand, has doubled down on endorsing the invasion. One prominent leader even suggested that “gay parades” in Ukraine justified the war.
The Russian Orthodox Church is Russia’s prominent religion, and Russian laws have favored it above all other groups. But in 2018, several Ukrainian Orthodox churches split from the Moscow Patriarchate. They created the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Putin, along with the Moscow-based Patriarchate, protested.
Greg Musselman with The Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “The Russian Orthodox Church has, many would say, compromised. Or they have had to submit to the Russian government for fear that they would be shut down, arrested, disappear, whatever it might be.”
Kyiv is an important city in the history of the Eastern Church. In the 980s, the pagan Prince Vladimir of Kyiv converted to Christianity. The city became the center of a new Christian empire, which only later settled in Moscow.
Ukrainian Orthodox churches can certainly expect persecution if Russia succeeds in occupying the country. But evangelical churches will too.
In fact, it is already happening in parts of Ukraine which Russia already controlled before the invasion. Any churches not affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate have been declared illegal. Musselman says, “It’s all under the guise of, ‘protecting the spiritual sovereignty of Russia.’ That’s the wording they’ve used.”
Russia adopted new religious freedom laws in 2021, putting pressure on every religious group besides the Moscow Patriarchate. Musselman says, “Some of the language in the amendments is so ambiguous, it can be interpreted in many different ways. And that has led to a lot of problems in Russia.”
How to pray
Pray for peace in Ukraine. Ask God to equip Ukrainian Christians to show the love of Jesus during a very difficult time.
Pray also that Russian Orthodox leaders would raise their voices and call for an end to the violence. Musselman says, “We pray that someway, somehow, Vladimir Putin and his inner circle will change course.”
The header photo shows the headquarters of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Haidamac, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons