Russian Orthodox congregation in the Netherlands splits with Moscow Patriarch over Ukraine

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A Russian Orthodox parish in Amsterdam is asking to be removed from the authority of Patriarch Cyril of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, because of the war in Ukraine.

Describing what they called an “extraordinary meeting”, the parish council of the Russian Orthodox parish of Saint Nicholas of Myra in Amsterdam announced on Facebook on Saturday that “the clergy have unanimously announced that they are no longer possible to function within the Moscow Patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for our worshippers.”

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The announcement goes on to explain that they have requested a canonical removal from their archbishop. They also asked to be received in the Diocese of Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople), who expressed his willingness to consider the request.

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Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril delivers the Christmas liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, January 6, 2022.
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Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril delivers the Christmas liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, January 6, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The parish said the proposal will be presented at a special parish general meeting on March 26, when it will not hold services.

“This is due not only to security concerns, but also to pastoral considerations: in this extremely tense situation, it would be virtually impossible to achieve the atmosphere of prayer that we seek during services,” they said.

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On February 27, Kirill called Moscow’s enemies in Ukraine “forces of evil”.

“…in this extremely tense situation, it would be virtually impossible to achieve the prayerful atmosphere we seek during services.”

— -Russian Orthodox Parish of St. Nicholas of Myra in Amsterdam

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been chastised by other religious authorities for invading Ukraine.

Last week, the world leader of Eastern Orthodoxy issued a rare public criticism when he condemned Putin, saying “the whole world is against Russia”.

The Cave Monastery, also known as Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, one of the holiest sites for Eastern Orthodox Christians, is seen in kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday October 10, 2007.

The Cave Monastery, also known as Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, one of the holiest sites for Eastern Orthodox Christians, is seen in kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday October 10, 2007.
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

During an interview with CNN TÜRK, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said he had “a very good relationship” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy while describing how Russia’s recent military actions have strained the country’s relations with the rest of the world.

“We are entering a new era of Cold War,” said Patriarch Bartholomew, according to a report. “The distance between Russia and not only Ukraine but the entire western world, Russia and the western world is growing. This means that we are entering a new period of cold war.”

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Earlier this month, more than 280 Russian Orthodox clergy signed an open letter calling for an end to the “fratricidal war” in Ukraine.

“We mourn the ordeal to which our brothers and sisters in Ukraine have been unjustly subjected,” the letter read.

Fox News’ Lawrence Richard contributed to this report.

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