The Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam announces its split with Moscow | Christianity

A Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam has announced it will split from the Moscow Patriarchate, in the first known case of a Western church cutting ties following the invasion of Ukraine.

“The clergy have unanimously announced that it is no longer possible for them to function within the Moscow Patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for our worshippers,” the clergy said in a statement posted on their website. “This decision is extremely painful and difficult for everyone involved.”

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, a trusted ally of Vladimir Putin, refused to condemn the Kremlin’s decision to invade his neighbor, calling Russia’s opponents in Ukraine “forces of evil”. In a Sunday sermon last week, he also said gay pride parades in the west were part of the reason for the war in Ukraine.

The statement said the Russian Orthodox Parish of St. Nicholas of Myra has asked the Russian Archbishop of the Hague-based Diocese of the Netherlands to grant the church a “canonical dismissal”.

Parish clergy said they applied to join the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based Orthodox branch seen as a rival to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Kirill’s stance on the war has caused unease among some Russian Orthodox priests who oppose the invasion of a country often referred to as a “fraternal nation” in religious circles.

More than 280 Russian Orthodox priests and church leaders from around the world have signed an open letter expressing their opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said that “eternal torment” awaited those who gave “murderous orders”.

The Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam, which consists of four priests and a deacon – one of the largest Russian Orthodox congregations in the Netherlands – has criticized Russia’s role in the war since the start of the war. invasion on February 24.

He said last week that he would no longer mention Patriarch Kirill’s name in his liturgy because of his support for the invasion of Ukraine. “As clergy of St. Nicholas Parish in Amsterdam, we expressed our shock at the invasion of Ukraine by the armed forces of the Russian Federation… We distance ourselves from the narrative of Patriarch Kirill” , he wrote on his Facebook page.

The statement went against the official policy of the Russian Orthodox Church not to use the words “war” and “invasion” to describe Russian actions in Ukraine.

Russian priests in Amsterdam told Dutch news outlet ND that Archbishop Elisey of the Netherlands then visited their church, warning that “Moscow is watching their actions closely”.

The church in Amsterdam held a closed session on Sunday in which the parish leader reiterated the decision to break with Moscow. “We asked our former patriarch Kirill to stop the war. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen,” he said in a video address posted on the church’s YouTube page.

A Russian member of the church choir who stood outside the church told the Guardian she supported the decision to secede from Moscow. “Once the war started, there was only one way out,” she said, asking not to be named.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also been criticized by other Christian religious leaders, including the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, and Pope Francis, who on Sunday issued his harshest condemnation to the day of the invasion, saying it was an “unacceptable armed attack”. must stop.

Bartholomew, considered the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, earlier said Putin had committed “a great injustice” by going to war against his “co-religionists” and had “earned the hatred of the whole world”.

In 2018, the Russian Orthodox Church severed its ties with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, considered the spiritual authority of Orthodox Christians around the world, after Bartholomew granted independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which was previously under the control of Moscow.

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