All news

Pope ready to act as mediator in religious dispute in Ukraine

At the same time, it was specified that the pontiff had no legal mechanisms of assistance other than calls for peace and negotiations

MOSCOW, March 28. /TASS/. Pope Francis is ready to act as an intermediary in negotiations between the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and the schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) in the situation involving the eviction UOC monks from the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra monastery, Leonid Sevastyanov, the chairman of the World Union of Old Believers, told TASS on Tuesday, while speaking about the details of his personal conversation with the pontiff.

"He told me that he is ready to become a go-between to let the UOC and the OCU discuss all personal issues. He could serve as a mediator, he could help the UOC defend its stance. <...> If there is a problem with establishing relations and communicating positions, he is ready to act as an intermediary," Sevastyanov said.

He specified that the pontiff had no legal mechanisms of assistance other than calls for peace and negotiations.

"He can only call for peace, dialogue and negotiations. In the Lavra case he calls for respecting the sanctity of sites of worship, so that the actions that are now taking place there be stopped, but he does not have legal mechanisms to intervene in some other way," Sevastyanov explained.

Kiev-Pechersk Lavra dispute

On March 10, the directorate of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra reserve terminated the open-ended lease with the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra of the UOC, and ordered the monks of the canonical church to leave the monastery by March 29. The Lavra’s abbot, Metropolitan Pavel, called these actions illegal and declared the monks’ refusal to leave. On March 20, the members of the UOC Holy Synod, headed by Metropolitan Onufry, arrived at the office of Ukraine’s President to state their viewpoint only to be denied an audience. On March 23, the UOC Synod issued an appeal to the highest hierarchs, clergy and parishioners with a call for protecting its right to stay in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.

Patriarch Kirill, of Moscow and All Russia, addressed the heads of the local Orthodox churches, Pope Francis, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other religious leaders and representatives of international organizations with a call for "exerting every possible effort" to prevent the expulsion of UOC monks from the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and the forced closure of the monastery.

On March 15, during the traditional collective audience, Pope Francis, while commenting on the situation involving the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, called on the parties to the dispute in Ukraine to "respect religious sites," adding that people "who devote themselves to prayer serve as support for the people of God.".