A petition to put the head of the Orthodox Russian church on trial has been signed by more than 300 priests.
The clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are calling on the Council of Eastern Patriarchs to take Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to an international ecclesiastical tribunal.
The priests, who are still officially loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate, are accusing Patriarch Kirill of heresy, saying he “directly blesses the physical destruction of his flock by Russian troops.”
The patriarch “and numerous clergy in Russia” support the invasion, and have blessed Russian troops.
The petition says it has caused “mass indignation among clergy and faithful.”
It goes on: “We clearly state that we can’t continue to remain in any form of canonical subordination to the Moscow patriarch. This is a command of our Christian conscience.”
The petition, posted on Facebook by Archpriest Andriy Pinchuk, calls for the patriarch’s formal removal from his post for breaching the internal legislation of the Russian Orthodox Church.
It says: “The position of the Moscow Patriarchate regarding the war against Ukraine, does not meet either the norms of Christian morality or even its own regulatory documents.”
The call came on the same day as the Pope called for an Easter ceasefire in Ukraine – which has since been backed by European church leaders.
The Presidents of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, and of the Conference of European Churches have pleaded with Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky to consider an Easter truce to the fighting.
The church leaders proposed the seven day ceasefire, which would start on Sunday April 17 and encompass Easter in both the Gregorian calendar and the Julian Calendar (used by Eastern churches), saying: “such a truce would be of benefit to all the citizens of both your countries, giving them a respite from the worrying uncertainty about the lives of their loved ones who are either fighting in the conflicts or affected by them."