Patriarch Kirill has repeatedly blessed the Russian military forces invading Ukraine. Because he is the church’s spiritual leader in both countries, many of the Ukrainians dying under the onslaught are his followers. He has also avoided condemning attacks on civilians.
Until now, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church had formally maintained its allegiance to Moscow.
The church has been under the wing of the Moscow Patriarchate for centuries, and its departure will markedly decrease the size of the patriarch’s flock because Ukrainians attend church in greater numbers than Russians.
But it is unclear how many of the bishops and parishes in Ukraine will follow the lead of the council, or how many might try to stick with Moscow, Sergei Chapnin, a Russian religious scholar who has been in the United States since the invasion, wrote on Facebook.
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