Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia sent messages to the leaders of world churches, including Pope Francis; UN Secretary-General António Guterres, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, French Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top officials.
Patriarch Kirill complained about alleged ‘large-scale violations’ of the rights and freedom of hierarchs and clergy in Ukraine.
“Recently, the interference of the leaders of the secular Ukrainian state in church affairs has grown into a blatant pressure on the episcopate and clerics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [of the Moscow Patriarchate – belsat.eu], what allows us to speak of the beginning of the large-scale persecutions,” the letter reads.
According to the Moscow Patriarchate, the pressure increased because of the refusal of pro-Kremlin church in Ukraine to recognize the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church; its hierarchs being summoned and questioned by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
In April, Ukraine’s parliament approved Petro Poroshenko‘s address to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to grant Ukraine a tomos of autocephaly. This idea was also supported by the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).
On October 11, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided to issue a tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Synod recognized as illegal the annexation of the Metropolitan of Kyiv by Moscow in 1686 by cancelling the corresponding decree on obedience. Moreover, the Ecumenical Patriarchate restored Ukraine’s schismatic Patriarch Filaret (Denisenko) and schismatic Archbishop Makariy (Maletych) to canonical status.
On October 15 in Minsk, the Russian Orthodox Church split from the Patriarchate of Constantinople as a response to their decision on Ukraine’s autocephaly. According to the statement, there was the ‘attempted interference of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the affairs of the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church’. The Belarusian Orthodox Church supported the decision of the ROC.