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Demand by Orthodox Church of Ukraine over monastery could widen rift

by Reuters Journalist
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery - Banner image

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is seeking permission from the government to take over a building on the grounds of a historic monastery in Kyiv, a move likely to widen a rift with a separate Ukrainian church that adheres to Moscow.

The sprawling Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex is a Ukrainian cultural treasure and the headquarters of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church known as the Moscow Patriarchate.

Ukrainians and Russians are predominantly Orthodox Christians, but Ukrainian church leaders have been at odds with Russia since the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was formed in 2018, ending centuries of Russian stewardship over Ukraine's largest church.

Some churches, including the Pechersk Lavra, chose to remain loyal to Moscow, a decision that has led them to be ostracised by much of Ukrainian society since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.

Ukraine's Orthodox Church said in a statement that a synod had decided to ask the church's primate to press the government to transfer to it "one of the churches of the Upper Lavra and some of its premises for use in worship and monastic activities".

There was no immediate reaction from the Moscow Patriarchate.

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