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How is Russia-Ukraine war linked to religion?

Sunday 27 February 2022, by siawi3

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]


AP NEWS (Associated Press)

EXPLAINER: How is Russia-Ukraine war linked to religion?


FILE photo - People pray next to the body of Ukrainian Army captain Anton Sydorov, 35, killed in eastern Ukraine, during his funeral in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)

Ukraine’s tangled political history with Russia has its counterpart in the religious landscape, with Ukraine’s majority Orthodox Christian population divided between an independent-minded group based in Kyiv and another loyal to its patriarch in Moscow.

But while there have been appeals to religious nationalism in both Russia and Ukraine, religious loyalty doesn’t mirror political fealty amid Ukraine’s fight for survival.

Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his invasion of Ukraine in part as a defense of the Moscow-oriented Orthodox church, leaders of both Ukrainian Orthodox factions are fiercely denouncing the Russian invasion, as is Ukraine’s significant Catholic minority.

“With prayer on our lips, with love for God, for Ukraine, for our neighbors, we fight against evil - and we will see victory,” vowed Metropolitan Epifany, head of the Kyiv-based Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

“Forget mutual quarrels and misunderstandings and ... unite with love for God and our Motherland,” said Metropolitan Onufry, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is under the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow but has broad autonomy.