The clergy of the Russian Orthodox parish in Amsterdam said on Saturday they were leaving the Moscow-based Orthodox church because they felt pressured by the Kremlin over the war in 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 climate for our faithful," the church said in a statement.
It is “with a heavy heart” that four priests and the deacon of the parish of Saint Nicolas de Myre turn their backs on the Orthodox Church in Moscow. They want to join the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
This Amsterdam church had recently indicated that it would no longer mention during liturgies the name of Patriarch Kirill, head of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church since 2009, because of the latter's statements about the conflict in Ukraine.
Patriarch Kirill justified, in a very political sermon on February 27, the intervention in Ukraine, seeing it as a war against the “forces of evil” who “fight the historical unity” between the two countries.
The move had earned the Amsterdam church an “unannounced visit” during a Mass by Russian Orthodox Archbishop Elisey in the Netherlands, saying Moscow was watching the clergy closely.
The clergy said they felt pressured “both by the bishop and the Russian state to reverse (their) position.”
In Ukraine, the Russian military offensive is reshuffling the cards within Orthodoxy to the benefit of the independent Church of Ukraine, while the Orthodox Church under Moscow is losing its influence.
Repercussions are also already to be noted in Western Europe. Based in Paris, Metropolitan John of Dubna, at the head of some sixty parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe, expressed his support for all the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian Orthodox churches, calling on his superior, the Patriarch of Moscow Kirill, to intervene to end the conflict.
The editorial staff (with AFP)
Image credit: Shutterstock / Mircea Moira
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