The Pechersk Lavra, a historic Kyiv monastery, houses members from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and is owned by the government of Ukraine. After being instructed by the government to leave the monastery, the clergy from UOC are resisting the order. The monks were scheduled to leave on March 29. Even though the UOC detached itself from the Russian Orthodox Church following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government suspects that some members are working with the Russian government. Pope Francis urged both parties “to respect religious sites.” The head of the UOC press office, Metropolitan Clement, reported to the BBC that there is a legal basis for the eviction of the monks from the monastery.
Christian Today reports:
Clergy from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) are defying an order from the Ukrainian government to leave a historic monastery in Kyiv.
The Pechersk Lavra is occupied by the UOC but owned by the Ukrainian government.
Although the UOC split from the Russian Orthodox Church after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the Ukrainian government suspects that some of the clergy are collaborating with Moscow.
The monks were supposed to vacate the 11th century monastery on Wednesday.
Ahead of the eviction deadline, Pope Francis called on “the warring parties” in Ukraine “to respect religious sites”.
Over the weekend, Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill, who has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, called on the international community and religious leaders to “make every effort to prevent the forced closure of the monastery, which will lead to a violation of the rights of millions of Ukrainian believers”.
Metropolitan Clement, head of the UOC press office, told the BBC that there were “no legal grounds” for their eviction from the monastery.
“If the government forces us to do it illegally, it’s called totalitarianism,” he said.
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Photo by Jorge Láscar