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World Council of Churches Concerned About Oppression of Monks in Kiev-Pechersk Lavra

CC0 / Peter Williams/WCC / Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry PillayProf. Jerry Pillay, just elected as the next WCC Secretar--General on 17 June 2022
Prof. Jerry Pillay, just elected as the next WCC Secretar--General on 17 June 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.03.2023
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Jerry Pillay on Friday questioned the Ukrainian government's respect for freedom of belief after it tried to evict the monks of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.
On March 10, the National Kiev-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve in Ukraine ordered the monks based in the monastery to leave it by March 29 after an interdepartmental Ukrainian commission accused the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of violating the terms of an agreement on the use of state property. Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said the monks could stay in the Lavra if they joined the schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), a decision that might be "stimulated through the joint work of specialists and law enforcement officers."
"It is unfortunate that such actions – including with regard to the UOC's monastic community of the ancient Dormition Kiev Caves Lavra – appear to target the church itself. The actions being taken against the UOC do appear to raise genuine questions with regard to respect for freedom of religion or belief," Pillay said in a statement.
The WCC will continue to monitor the situation and respond to its development in accordance with international principles for the protection of human rights and freedom of religion, Pillay added.
A lamp containing the Holy Fire delivered from Jerusalem to the Holy Resurrection Church near the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.03.2023
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The Russian Orthodox Church says the UOC is a "self-governing church with the rights of broad autonomy" within the Moscow Patriarchate. However, in the wake of the military operation that Russia launched in Ukraine a year ago, the UOC said that it was independent from the Moscow Patriarchate and did not support the conflict. In January, the Ukrainian government submitted a bill to parliament that seeks to ban the UOC in Ukraine if its connection with Russia is proven.
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