16 Mar 2023 13:26

Patriarch Kirill calls for averting closure of Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra

MOSCOW. March 16 (Interfax) - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All-Russia said in a video address on Thursday that all possible steps must be taken to stop the Ukrainian authorities from closing the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra.

"I ask for all possible efforts to be made to prevent the monastery's forcible closure, which will lead to a violation of the rights of millions of Ukrainian [Orthodox] believers to freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the constitution of Ukraine and other documents, such as the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, and a large number of other acts of international significance," the patriarch said.

Late last week, the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra national reserve demanded that all monks living in the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra leave the territory of the monastery by March 29, when the contract with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the use of state property on the territory of the monastery is to be severed.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church believes that the Ukrainian authorities' ultimatum to the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra is a "monstrous act", which can be compared to persecution for faith in time of atheism.

"As it was back then, the authorities overtly ignore the law today, let alone show minimal respect for the rights of their fellow citizens," he said.

The work of the commission that searched for violations in the monastery's economic activities was "not transparent" and "its repressive goal was to ensure the full eviction of monks from the lavra", he said.

"It is regrettable that as the leadership of Ukraine declares its commitment to democratic norms, the European path of development and the observance of human rights and freedoms, these rights and freedoms are being trampled upon today in the most flagrant manner," Patriarch Kirill said.

Patriarch Kirill had earlier written to international religious leaders and officials of the most influential international organizations, such as the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and others, calling on them to prevent the closure of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra.