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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Bacteriological diversion of the Moscow Patriarchate

Quarantine in the springtime causes a lot of temptation for those who self-isolate in their homes around the world. However, there is one particular temptation that has little to do with spring per se. It follows from religious traditions. Christians of different denominations, that is, nearly 2.4 billion believers worldwide can not comply with the usual rituals, including the celebration of Easter this year. After all, among other things, quarantine restrictions do not permit them to attend churches during the holiday. And Ukraine is no exception. Especially when 80% of believers are Orthodox Christians. Keeping so many people from going to church is a serious challenge for the state. It does not matter how decent the intentions of the confessional leaders in a similar situation, today holding services with the participation of parishioners seems to be an irresponsible decision. The main problem is that mechanisms for effective compliance with "all necessary sanitary standards" do not actually exist.[1]

On April 8, 2020, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that it had agreed with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches that religious services would be held without believers during the quarantine, and people will not be gathered near churches and in the temples at Easter. The Primates of the Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church appealed to the believers and urged them to stay at home at Easter in order to maintain good health.

However, on Palm Sunday, some churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) (UOC-MP) violated the prohibitions and sanctified willow in the courtyards. Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, which is subordinated to the UOC-MP, became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the capital. On April 14, 2020, Metropolitan Onufriy recorded a video message to the congregation. «This year, Easter holiday is special for us because of a viral disease, which spreads across the globe. Therefore, I inform you, dear brothers and sisters, that Easter services will be held in churches», Onufriy said. For those who are ill, Onufriy announced the broadcast of services via television. The rest of believers, according to him, can go to the temples for the holiday.[2] And the Abbot of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel of the UOC-MP, criticized the Ukrainian authorities for calling to restrict religious services during the quarantine due to the spread of coronavirus. Consequently, Pavel invited belivers to go to the temple, take communion, and  bring children. According to Pavel, the Ukrainian authorities made a "poor judgment" when it published "insane orders". He believes that authorities are interested in "keeping people at bay". [3]

Although, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which includes the UOC-MP, urges believers to adhere to self-isolation even during the Easter holidays. "Guided by the blessing of his Holiness the Patriarch, the clergy should call upon the parishioners to pray at home  untlil the restrictions imposed by the authorities will be lifted, including the the days of Holy Week and  Easter holiday," this is said in the text of the recommendations to a special circular dated April 8, which was sent to all metropolises and dioceses by the Danilov Monastery, which is the residence of Patriarch Kirill. And those who continue to visit temples during the Covid-19 epidemic are accused of not being reconciled to God.[4]

On April 18-19, 2020, Easter services were held in over 13,000 Ukrainian temples. According to the Ministry of internal Affairs, more than 130,000 people took part in the services. This is significantly less than last year, when more than 7 million people took part in religious services at Easter. At the same time, breaches of quarantine rules were detected in 19 churches in 13 regions - the presence of more than 10 believers in churches, in particular, without personal protective equipment.[5]

Consequently, at Easter the so-called "Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate" committed a socially dangerous diversion, which is a gross violation of the legislation of Ukraine in the form of conducting prohibited mass events during a nationwide quarantine due to a deadly disease. The main evidence and aggravating circumstance in this crime is the fact that the same Moscow Patriarchate in Russia strictly prohibited to gather people in its churches at Easter. At the same time, it can be assumed from the well-known facts that Moscow Patriarchate, on the contrary, recommended its branch in Ukraine to gather people in churches. After all, crowds, as is known, are the most favorable environment for the spread of coronavirus. In this case, this was artificially done to create a second wave of the epidemic in Ukraine, although the population and the government are trying to stop this epidemic.[6]

All this performance could be perceived as an attempt of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine to self-destruct if the priests and believers of the Russian Church were a closed group that does not contact with other representatives of Ukrainian society. Such irresponsible actions of Moscow priests demonstrate a purposeful desire to spread not the word of God, but the coronavirus. To spread the disease within the society, instead of preaching online during the epidemic. This proves once again that the UOC-MP is a branch of the Russian Church, not the Ukrainian religious institution: in spirit and mentality. Here, they choose their own special path, instead of adhering to norms and rules, they express their readiness to endanger people and act to the detriment of Ukrainian society - just to show their own otherness and neglect of the Ukrainian state and its people. This is a Church that chooses to live in the dark Middle Ages, instead of using the achievements of civilization. Like in ancient times it opposes medicine and science to faith, endanger people by calling upon them to go to the temple during the epidemic. When violations go beyond the common sense and become a threat to the entire society – isn’t this a reason to deprive such a cantor of registration as an organization that brings not the good tidings to society, but a deadly disease? [7]

Consequently, UOC-MP took advantage of the Church holidays of Palm Sunday and Easter to manipulate the minds of believers and thus to encourage them to commit offenses and not to comply with quarantine rules. This diversion should be regarded as part of Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine, in which the UOC-MP is traditionally an important tool. Such a deliberate anti-Ukrainian war at the church level should not be ignored by the state, because if this lawlessness continues, the citizens of Ukraine will expect deplorable consequences.


[1]Напередодні Великодня Московський патріархат ризикує здоров’ям вірян:

[2]Якої епідемії вам ще бракує? Онуфрій закликав вірних приходити на Великдень до храмів:

[3]Настоятель Києво-Печерської лаври закликав ігнорувати карантин:

[4]Великодня диверсія. Чому в Росії людей женуть від церкви, а в Україні – запрошують? :

[5]До храмів на Великдень прийшли 130 тисяч людей – МВС:

[6]НАВМИСНИЙ ЗЛОЧИН "УПЦ МП"? Вони зробили в Україні те, що заборонили в Росії:

[7]«УПЦ (МП) є філіалом російської церкви за духом і ментальністю» – Назарій Заноз: