John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
When Patriarch Kirll spoke against the invaded Ukrainians, little did he know it will cause such a ripple; or he just did not care who his allegiance seems to point by voicing support for the Russian invasion of a sovereign state.
The head of the Russian Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, a trusted ally of Vladimir Putin, has declined to condemn the Kremlin’s decision to invade its neighbour, referring to Russia’s opponents in Ukraine as “evil forces”. In a Sunday sermon last week he also said gay pride parades organised in the west were part of the reason for the war in Ukraine. In a swift reaction, A Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam has announced it is to split with the Moscow patriarchate, in the first known instance of a western-based church cutting ties over the invasion of Ukraine. Speaking further, 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,” the clergy said in a statement posted on its website. “This decision is extremely painful and difficult for all concerned.” The statement said the Russian Orthodox parish of Saint Nicholas of Myra had asked the Russian archbishop of the diocese of the Netherlands, who is based in The Hague, to grant the church “canonical dismissal”.
The clergy of the parish said they had requested to join the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based Orthodox branch, seen as a rival to the Russian Orthodox church.
Kirill’s position on the war has led to unease among some Russian Orthodox priests who object to the invasion of a country often referred to as a “brotherly nation” in religious circles.
Over 280, Russian Orthodox priests and church officials from around the world signed an open letter expressing their opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The statement went against the official policy of the Russian Orthodox church not to use the word “war” and “invasion” to describe Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The Russian priests in Amsterdam told the Dutch outlet ND that Archbishop Elisey of the Netherlands visited their church afterwards, warning that “Moscow was watching their actions closely”.
The Amsterdam church held a closed session on Sunday in which the head of the parish reiterated the decision to break with Moscow. “We asked our former Patriarch Kirill to stop the war. Unfortunately, this did not happen,” he said in a video address posted on the church’s YouTube page.
A Russian member of the church’s choir, who was standing outside the church, told the Guardian she supported the decision to separate from Moscow. “Once the war started, there was only one way out of this,” she said, asking not to give her name.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also been criticised by other Christian religious leaders, including the head of Patriarchate of Constantinople, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, and Pope Francis, who on Sunday issued his toughest condemnation yet of the invasion, saying the “unacceptable armed aggression” must stop.
Bartholomew, considered being the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, earlier said Putin had committed “a great injustice” by going to war against his “coreligionists” and had “earned the hatred of the entire world”.
In 2018, the Russian Orthodox church cut ties with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, seen as the spiritual authority of the world’s Orthodox Christians, after Bartholomew granted independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox church, which was previously under Moscow’s control.
Ukraine has some 30 million orthodox christian sect in Ukraine divided along the independent church and the other associated with Moscow.