Kiev Orthodox call for Moscow to surrender Monastery of the Caves

Russian Orthodox leaders have denounced a “Stalinist” petition drive calling for the government to transfer control of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves to the Kiev Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church.

Russian Orthodox leaders in the Ukraine have denounced a “Stalinist” petition drive calling for the government to transfer control of the Kiev Monastery of the Caves from the Moscow Patriarchate to the Kiev Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. “When the new power came, the Soviet power, it was the start of the so-called terror. It all started with the closing down of churches and provocations. That’s what we see today in the form of this petition,” Bishop Clement of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) told Ukraine Today. The Monastery of the Caves, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, was founded in 1051 when Anthony, a monk from Esphigmenon monastery on Mount Athos, began to evangelize the Rus. He settled in a cave at the Berestov Mount overlooking the Dnieper River and a community of disciples soon grew, becoming one of the principle sites of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Nationalized during the Soviet era, control over the monastery is now shared between a state museum and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), which counts 10 million adherents across the country. However, members of the 15 million member Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate) have lobbied for the government to turn over the grounds to them. The secretary of the Kiev Patriarchate Archbishop Evstratiy Zorya said the petition drive was not an official act of his church. “As a church we are not interested in fomenting interdenominational conflicts. We are seeing that ever since the Euromaidan revolution, Russia and pro-Russian forces have been attempting to sow religious hatred.” Approximately 50 churches belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate have seceded in the past few years to join the Kiev Patriarchate since the start of the war in the Eastern Ukraine.

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