The Russian Orthodox Church is one of the world’s oldest Christian traditions. Unfortunately, it has been under Communist control since 1917 and endured many persecutions during this time.
Over 280 Russian Orthodox priests and church officials have signed an open letter against the conflict in Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill has described it as a large-scale geopolitical strategy by the West to weaken Russia.
The parish’s decision
On Saturday, priests in an Amsterdam parish announced they were breaking with Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. This schism is indicative of tensions within Russia Orthodox Church over Moscow’s support for the war and its leader’s endorsement of gay pride parades that have been seen as contributing factors to the conflict.
“Our clergy can no longer function within the Moscow patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for our believers,” they declared in their statement. They informed Archbishop Elisey of the Russian Patriarchate in The Hague that they wished to join Constantinople Orthodox Church, seen as an adversary to Moscow.
Orthodox Christians number 260 million worldwide, many living together in unity with Moscow. But the conflict has caused tensions between those believers, with some Western-based believers expressing their solidarity with Ukraine and urging the patriarchate to intervene.
The visit from Archbishop Elisey
On Saturday, the Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam declared its separation from Moscow Patriarchate due to his support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They will no longer commemorate him in their liturgies and have requested membership within Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Following Patriarch Kirill’s support of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, many European parishes and entire dioceses have decided not to mention him anymore in their services due to his endorsement of the conflict.
Nederlands Dagblad reported that the parish’s decision was prompted by an unexpected visit by Archbishop Elisey of the Netherlands last Sunday. He encouraged clergy to continue referring to Patriarch Kirill in their services even if they don’t wish him mentioned. Furthermore, Patriarchate and Moscow’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are “paying close attention” to what the parish decides.
The clergy’s decision
On Thursday, clergy of a Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam announced their split with Moscow’s Patriarchate over its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They have requested Archbishop Elisey, head of a diocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe, to allow them to join the Patriarchate of Constantinople instead.
This decision comes as many clergy around the world have called on Patriarch Kirill, Russia’s top Orthodox cleric, to condemn and intervene in the conflict. They contend that his pro-Putin stance has created a chasm between Orthodox and non-Orthodox worlds.
The schism is also posing challenges to the World Council of Churches (WCC), which boasts 352 member churches representing approximately 580 million Christians around the globe. It has been accused of allowing this patriarch’s position to disrupt its relationship with the Vatican.
The parish’s statement
A Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam has declared its separation from Moscow over their support of Ukraine’s invasion. This marks the first time a Western-based church has chosen to break away from Russia’s patriarch.
The parish’s decision comes after repeated appeals to Patriarch Kirill, an ally of President Vladimir Putin who has refused to condemn Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. In a Sunday sermon, he labeled the Russian Orthodox opposition forces within Ukraine “evil forces”.
He also condemned gay pride parades organized in Europe to protest against the war, sparking tensions among some priests in Russia who oppose it.
At the same time, an increasing number of Christian leaders are calling for the World Council of Churches to break its relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). As violence in Ukraine escalates, this international group is set to hold a central committee meeting that will ultimately decide whether or not it should expel or keep ROC from its fold.