Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine threatens to become the worst humanitarian disaster in recent history. The Russian Orthodox Church, already embroiled in a protracted conflict in Ukraine over Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s decision to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, is facing even greater struggles to maintain unity among its flock as this calamity unfolds.
The Moscow Patriarchate bears a good deal of responsibility for this current conflict. Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church have been at turns enthusiastic cheerleaders or silent regarding Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, support of separatists, and annexation of Crimea.
Russian Orthodox media in both Russia and Ukraine has been working since 2014 to discredit Euromaidan and democratically elected Ukrainian governments and since 2018 to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Now, as Russian troops attack Ukrainians, we see how media and rhetoric divide Orthodox Christians within the Moscow Patriarchate.Continue reading