A Russian Orthodox church in Holland said on Saturday it is cutting ties with the patriarchate in Russia and has requested to join the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In a statement posted to its website it said that after a meeting, “the clergy unanimously announced that it is no longer possible for them to function within the Moscow Patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for our faithful.”
It was “with a heavy heart” that the four priests of Saint Nicholas of Myra in Amsterdam had reached their decision, they said.
They had asked Archbishop Elisey, of the Russian Orthodox Church in The Hague, to grant them canonical dismissal and had applied to join the Constantinople Orthodox Church, the statement added.
In an earlier statement, the church’s clergy said that they would no longer mention the name of Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in their liturgy because of his backing of the invasion of Ukraine.
Orthodox Church in Russia accuses West on Ukraine war
In a February 27 sermon, the Patriarch described Moscow’s opponents in Ukraine as “evil forces” fighting against the “unity of Russia.”
As Crux Now reports, Kirill, responding to a request that he intervene with Russia’s leaders to end the war in Ukraine, accused the west of disregarding Russia’s security concerns and stoking tensions between the two countries in a bid to weaken Russia.
“Russophobia is spreading across the Western world at an unprecedented pace,” he said, and added that he prayed that God would “help establish the lasting and justice-based peace as soon as possible.
“Moreover, the political forces which make it their aim to contain Russia were not going to fight against it themselves,” he said, and accused them of inciting hatred amongst the “brother peoples” of Russia and Ukraine.
Kirill also blames Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople
These western forces spared no effort or expense “to flood Ukraine with weapons and warfare instructors,” Kirill said, accusing the West of attempts to “re-educate” Ukrainians and “mentally remake” them into enemies of Russia.
He also faulted Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who, he said, pursued the same ends when he established a new Orthodox body in Ukraine by granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 2018, against Kirill’s wishes.
The Russian Orthodox Church has denounced the move by the Ecumenical Patriarch, which forced clergy and believers to choose between belonging to the old Moscow-affiliated church or the new Ukrainian one, as a politically-driven encroachment on religious freedoms.
Following Bartholomew’s decision for the Ukrainian church’s independence, the Russian Orthodox Church severed ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Sunday praised the “vigorous resistance” of the Ukrainians and “the courageous reaction of Russian citizens.”
In statements after his meeting with visiting Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis he called for an “immediate ceasefire on all fronts” in Ukraine.
Last August, Bartholomew visited the autocephalous Church of Ukraine for the first time and participated in festivities celebrating the 30th anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence.