Fox News reports that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, has just declared “full independence and autonomy” from Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Fox quotes one expert as calling this a “huge blow” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Read on to see why.
The UOC’s announcement
The Council of UOC made its decision known in a series of resolutions that it released on Friday. The UOC made it very clear that its decision to separate from Kirill is in response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“The council condemns the war as a violation of God’s commandment Thou shalt not kill! (Ex. 20:13) and expresses its condolences to all those who have suffered in the war,” the UOC wrote in one of the resolutions.
In another, the UOC states, “the Council adopted relevant amendments and additions to the Statutes on the administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, indicating the full autonomy and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”
“Huge blow for Putin”
Fox News quotes former DIA Intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler as explaining that the UOC’s decision “is a huge blow to Putin,” who has “weaponized the Russian Orthodox religion as a geopolitical tool.”
The Wall Street Journal, here, provides some background, writing: “Mr. Putin has long looked to the Russian Orthodox Church, which claimed authority over Ukraine’s Orthodox believers, to provide spiritual support for his territorial claims on Russia’s neighbor.”
Koffler, accordingly, explains:
The idea of Putin unifying the Russian world, including Ukraine and other post-Soviet states, hinges on the idea that Russia is the center of Christianity and the center of the unique Eurasian civilization that the Russians believe is exceptional just like Americans think America is exceptional. Once the church splits, it takes the whole divinity idea out of it.
Koffler adds, “the split punches a hole in Putin’s narrative that the Russians and Ukrainians are spiritually and ethnically one people and therefore Ukraine should not exist as a separate country.”
“Spirits of malice”
Kirill responded to the UOC’s decision on Sunday.
“We fully understand how the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is suffering today,” Kirill claimed.
He added that the “spirits of malice” are trying to divide the Orthodox people of Russia and of Ukraine, but that these spirits will not succeed.