The news was jarring to those who had come to regard Volodymyr Zelensky as a warrior for freedom, standing unflinchingly against a sinister, unscrupulous and powerful foe: in December, he signed a decree banning the Church to which millions of Ukrainians belong, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Last Sunday, thousands of those Ukrainians gathered outside the Church’s headquarters, the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery, to pray and show their support for the monks whom Zelensky has ordered to vacate the premises. This is the new Churchill? A man who evicts monks from their monastery and closes churches? But the situation, as with all matters regarding Ukraine, is complicated.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding Zelensky’s action because most Westerners aren’t aware that there is actually more than one Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This situation goes back to the period when Ukraine was a republic of the Soviet Union. When the nation won its independence in 1991, the Ukrainian Church did not, and remained under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow, which rebuffed repeated Ukrainian requests for autocephaly, or ecclesiastical independence.
However, some Ukrainian Orthodox began to operate independently of Moscow. Finally, in January 2019, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, granted autocephaly to this Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Moscow refused to recognize this, severed relations with Constantinople, and continued its operations in Ukraine.
In April 2018, four years before the war began and nine months before the Ecumenical Patriarch officially granted autocephaly, the Religion News Service estimated that 40 percent of Orthodox Christian Ukrainians belonged to the independent Church, and 25 percent to the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Once Putin began his war, however, the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has seen a steady decline in its following, as millions of Ukrainians have shifted their allegiance to the independent Church. A July 2022 survey showed only four percent of Ukrainians stating that they belonged to the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
In an attempt to stem this decline, the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate officially severed ties with Moscow in May 2022. Nonetheless, Zelensky still contends that this Church is not so much a Church as an arm of Vladimir Putin and the KGB, and thus a subversive force within Ukraine. It was, of course, this Church that he has moved against, not the Ukrainian Orthodox Church granted autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 2019. Zelensky has enjoyed a warm relationship with Bartholomew, and when he ordered the monks to vacate the Lavra monastery, he echoed the Ecumenical Patriarch’s statements about the right of the Ukrainians to have their own Church that was not controlled by outside forces. Zelensky said Monday that “one more step towards strengthening our spiritual independence was taken this week.”
The Ukrainian government, meanwhile, has offered evidence to support its contention that the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate continues to be an instrument of the Russian state. On December 2, 2022, the Associated Press, “members of the Security Service of Ukraine, the country’s National Guard and police searched the monastery last week after a priest spoke favorably about Russia during a service there. The Security Service said its agents searched more than 350 church buildings in all, including at another monastery and in a diocese of the Rivne region, 240 kilometers (150 miles) west of Kyiv.” According to that Ukrainian security agency, the SBU, the searches found “pro-Russian literature, which is used during studies in seminaries and parish schools, including for propaganda of the ‘Russian world.’” The SBU said it was undertaking “systematic work to counter the subversive activities of the Russian special services in Ukraine.”
Would Moscow be conducting subversive actions through its Church in Ukraine even after that Church had officially broken relations with it? The idea cannot be easily discounted. After all, Moscow Patriarch Kirill spied for the KGB in the 1970s and many contend that he is still a KGB operative. Nevertheless, the monks at the Lavra insist that they’re not engaged in any kind of work for the Russian government. One declared: “For centuries we have belonged to the church, which has its own beginning and patriarch…and to make us out to be some kind of foreign agents or enemies…this is not true, this is not so. These are our people, our land and our Lavra.”
Zelensky, however, was adamant on Monday, saying: “We will continue this movement. We will not allow the terrorist state any opportunity to manipulate the spiritual life of our people, to destroy Ukrainian shrines — our Lavras — or to steal values from them.”
Certainly it cannot be said that the thousands of Ukrainians who stood and prayed outside the monastery last Sunday are KGB operatives. They don’t deserve to be punished for exercising their religious faith. If Zelensky wishes to maintain the wholehearted support he has enjoyed in many quarters of the West, he would be wise to ease up on his actions against the Lavra and the Church of which it is the headquarters, while maintaining vigilance regarding any actual subversive activity. Otherwise, the evicted monks and orphaned faithful will stand in mute witness against his claims to represent the side of freedom against tyranny.
The Ukrainian Orthodox staff buy their religious garb at at an appropriate religious outfitter. But Zelenski must also have a specialist outfitter where he buys those t-shirts. To make it easy on Zelenski they stock only one obcom colour. He’s hardly the Imelda Marcos of t-shirts.
The info is contrary to that given by MARK SLEBODA,University professor,in his video about it.
“Zelenskiy’s Pogrom Against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”( 17 min, The Real Politik with Mark Sleboda)
Spencer doesn’t mention the Orthodox Church approved by Zelenski approves of his law that says a Ukrainian who receives HUMANITARIAN aid (medicine, home, shelter, food) from Russian organizations will get
15 YEARS in PRISON. Would Jesus approve of the law?
And that it also supports the BANDERISTAS ( Right Sector, C-14, the AZOV group) that are WHITE SUPREMACISTS and racist, and that
it also approves of STEPAN BANDERA as a hero,who was an anti-Semite. Would Jesus approve?
The ORTHODOX CHURCH of UKRAINE was created in 2018 by the Banderistas. JACK DEVINE,the CIA chief,was given an AWARD by the new PATRIARCH of KIEW
for his support in creating the new church.
The Patriarch also gave an award to JOHN MCCAIN ( born-again, forever saved Evangelical) ,the NEOCON and warmonger who was a RABID hater of TRUMP.
When the war broke out the earlier,non- Banderista, Ukrainian Church OFFICIALLY broke its ties with the Patriarch of MOSCOW…………………………………in 2014. Yes, 8 YEARS before when Russia had a small war with Ukraine.
They wrote a CHARTER where they say they are absolutely INDEPENDENT of the Russian church. Mark Sleboda shows it in his video.
In 2014 this new ,non-Banderista Ukrainian Orthodox Church CONDEMNED the Russian military intervention. The claim they are “under the Moscow Patriarch” is false,but it is repeated by the Ukrainian government.
The ” PROOF ” the Ukrainian secret police show that they are traitors is RELIGIOUS BOOKS ( lives of saints, prayer books, theological books ) that
are in RUSSIAN.
In the meantime the new church created in 2018 has held CEREMONIES in HONOR of Stepan Bandera, the priests singing songs in his honor,in front of a GIANT STATUE of him.
ZELENSKY became president in 2019.
A puppet under the control of the Banderistas. On July 1, 2021, before the war,
the Ukrainian Parliament passed a law on the status of indigenous people.
There are 360,000 to 400,000 JEWS in Ukraine today.
The new law of 2021,under Zelensky, LEGALIZED discrimination of Jews, Russians, Hungarians ( 150,000) in Ukraine. And also the few Greeks and Romanians who live there.
A law that is XENOPHOBIC and also ANTISEMTIC.
People who know the details are amazed by the ignorance of those who write about the war. It began on FEBRUARY 24,2022.
But they don’t know that the UKRAINIAN army ,from February 18 to 20, had broke a CEASEFIRE
between them and the Donbass militia.
They SHELLED (heavy artillery) DONETSK CITY ( 1 million ),where there are NO soldiers.
100 times? 100 rounds of shells? No. 200,300, 500 times? No.
It was 2,158 times. Firing on civilians.Like always, they killed 6,000 civilians from 2014-2021.
I think that Zelenski is (if at all) from the Tribe of Benjamin. We all know what the Benjamites and Saul did to King David.
Russian Orthodoxy (as distinct from Constantinopolitan Orthodoxy) isn’t Christianity. It’s Tsar-worshipping idolatry.
And the priests are all Putin supporters harboring traitors.
But he is not wise.
Kristian Brunila says
Why would Zelensky and Ukraine have to start coddling traitors that support Russia?
Andrii Leshchyshyn says
In fact, Zelensky did not prohibit anything. A church works in Ukraine. The Ukrainian security service is fighting Russian saboteurs pretending to be priests.
Robert Spencer. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Isn’t he in fact jewish. Oy vey what beautiful deception to keep the all the other races at each other’s throats while profiting from the mayhem.
Spencer’s not Jewish. He comes from a Christian family originally from Turkey. You ignorant troll.
FYI: Robert Spencer is a Christian, born to a Christian family that fled Turkish pogroms against Christians in the early 20th century. He is also a scholar of world religions.
Why does everyone overlook the fact that Zelensky is a homosexual? Homosexuals are against God and his Word the Bible. There is really nothing else to understand here.
Homosexual Jew shuts down Christian Church.
Zelensky is not gay, he supports gay right as do many other straight politicians but he is not gay.
Craig Austin says
Comrade Zelenskyy said he was inspired to enter politics by another bad actor, Justine Trudeau. If that isn’t a disqualification from serious discussions, nothing is.
Onzeur Trante says
Zelensky’s really good at demanding stuff.
Dr. Sylvia Wasson says
Well over 100 Billion dollars in our taxpayers money — and more promised by Biden — are already in the hands of the Zelensky government.
How is this money being spent? Will there be a public accounting once the war is over? Has any future accounting even been requested by our government and presented as a prerequisite for obtaining the money in the first place?
Just watch for the little man in the sweatshirt, the left’s new hero du jour, appearing before Congress once again, with his hand stretched out and asking for more. I predict that Joe Biden — a man who has now for the second time shown that he is not interested in brokering peace talks between Russia and Ukraine — will grant the request without stipulations attached. Then observe our very own Representatives, in a show of democratic fervor, leap to their feet with reverence and waive Ukrainian mini flags in the Peoples’ House.
In the meantime, American democracy has been tested by Marxist policies from within as never before. It would be comical, if it weren’t so scary and dangerous at the same time. Wake up, America!
G T says
What would you expect?
He has previously outlawed all of the opposition parties and later outlawed any freedom of the Press. History repeats.
Brent Garner says
I have always admired the quality of your work. However, I think you missed the mark on this one. Zelensky is not at war with Christianity. He’s at war, as is Ukraine, with Russia. The Moscow-aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church is, without a doubt, being used by Moscow to further Moscow’s aims. It is certain that not all of the monks and priests of that church are Moscow’s agents, but past history proves that some are and it is difficult to separate the agents from those who are not. Further, if Zelensky were truly at war with Christianity as the title of your article claims, he would have attacked all Christian churches in Ukraine. He has not. Your own article makes that clear.
I thought he hastily drew the last paragraph, as it doesn’t reflect the ethos of the article. Evidently, he was just saying that Z’s appearance of being anti-Christian was a threat to his good will, but I can’t really tell. That said, being ignorant of the whole matter, I’m now a friend of this writer. I am compelled to brush up on the subject. Your comment is worthy of attention indeed.
Hrs married… he were foggy stuff as an actor but proves nothing.
He’s married… he wore faggy stuff as an actor but proves nothing.
gundog 9mm says
Many homos are married to cover their sodomy!
Rival nationality-affiliated churches in that region have been duking it out for some time. These often function as political parties.
Spurwing Plover says
Zelensky is reason we need a Border fence and No More Bridges unless its to the private estates of Liberal Democrats and Open Borders Fools
LOL! Not complicated. Z is a tyrant; a dictator as bad as Putin…or worse.
Copter Sled says
Mr. Spencer you are slightly mistaken about the autocephaly granted by Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) has been under the Moscow Patriarchy since the 17th century.
Bartholomew granted autocephaly to a completely separate church structure called the Orthodox Church Of Ukraine (OCU), which is naturally in schism with the rest of Orthodoxy because there was no ecumenical council decision.
In Orthodoxy, only ecumenical councils can make such a decision.
If you are genuinely interested in this topic, there is a lot of information available regarding US influence on the Patriarch of Constantinople since at least President Truman, which has been constant and heavy handed.
The US foreign policy establishment is pushing the Patriarch of Constantinople to do its bidding, as it has for at least 80 years.
The Jews have always been opposed to Christ and His Church. Although Jews account for only .4 percent of the population of Ukraine, they hold all of the wealth and government power. They are pitting Christian against Christian and the Ukrainian people are being slaughtered in the process.
Your ignorance and JEW envy are showing – get lost, dunce
This is part of a much larger story where the USA is promoting the Patriarch of Constantinople, who has delusions of being a Latin Pope clone along with uniting with Rome as his legacy. Qatar, Jerusalem and now Ukraine are all suffering due to his politically fueled policies. There is no need for an Obama/Biden/CIA version of Orthodoxy in Ukraine and the schismatic heretics that comprise its leadership.
Walter Sieruk says
Even though Vladimir Putin is a terrible man, it’s important to keep thing in perspective when it comes to the heads of the different nations of this area of the world.
For Volodymyr Zelnskyy who is the President/dictator of Ukraine is also a terrible man.
As he as a tyrant had ordered government persecution of the Ukraine Orthodox Church and its monasteries.
Zelenskyy didn’t dare order government persecution of the mosques and madrasas’ along
with harassment of its imams.
Zelenskyy well understands what and who it’s safe to pick on, and what and who it’s not safe to pick on.
Michael Vanyukov says
A blatant lie, uncommon for the author. The Patriarch, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is Putin’s supporter and “blessed” his genocidal aggression. Zelenskyy sanctioned clerics of the Church, Russian citizens, who are “supporters of terror and the genocidal politics.”
Matt D says
Anyone who thought or thinks that Zelensky was/is noble are the same people who wore masks, took the poison shotz and boosters, forced their kids and elderly grandparents to get them, watched family members suddenly die from it and remains clueless, always votes demrat marxist commie, hates Jesus Christ and all Chrisitans, has TDS, hates the US Flag, pledge of allegiance and the Star spangled banner, supports taking the knee, is typically white but calls all whites racist, and wants a nuclear war, total surveillance and CBDCs.
James A Denney says
The headline is a flat out lie. Zelensky is not waging war on Christianity, he is waging war on the hierachy of the UOC, which are pawns of Kirill and his master, Putin.
Mo de Profit says
Why aren’t the leftist elites up in arms about the separation of church and state?
Well folks … I see this article has brought out the anti-Semites and Current Thing bots.
… a couple of folks have pointed out that Spencer made a few ‘errors’ in the article – to which I would point out are not really relevant to the current thing …
… inside baseball about Orthodox schisms, and Cold War Infiltration are just not that important …
As for the excellent point – that Zelenskyy and his Ukrops and his favorites are Banderas-type Nasties – that’s true, but I don’t that helps.
… Not all Ukrainians are Russia-hating, anti-Semitic Nasties … we know this from both polls and from social media on the intertubes … and I know it from a lot of Ukrainian, Belarus, and Russian friends. …
So blaming OR claiming one side or the other for whatever War Crimes were/are committed by both sides is as WRONG as blaming Russians for a conflict that went ‘hot’ in 2014 – not 2022.
Only TWO issues matter – none of which have been covered …
1. Resident Brandon – currently pretending to be the leader of the so-called ‘Free World’ … is a wholly owned puppet of Ihor Valeriyovych Kolomoyskyi … and THAT is why WE are at war. AND
2. … NUCLEAR WAR IS A FREAKING BAD IDEA!! Hello?!!
Oh, yeah sure … NUCLEAR WAR – IF IT ONLY SAVES HUNTER BIDEN!
Are you ‘down’ with that? If so – YOU are the problem. I don’t give a shit what ‘side’ you’re on.
Seriously folks … talk about burying the lede …
willful knowledge says
If by accusing Zelenksy of being a “banderas type” you mean he is a Ukrainian nationalist I would agree. If you mean he is a neo-nazi you haven’t taken your meds today. It’s interesting that no one accuses Putin, a man whose speeches are eerily reminiscent of a certain mustached tyrant, of being a neo-nazi.
There is no war against Christianity. There are actions being taken against a Russian puppet church that supports the destruction of Ukraine and Ukrainian culture.
Very bad and misleading Headline—not supported by the body–hh
Zelensky has only acted against a fifth column Russian church operated by the KGB. For the facts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vz619p3f24
Comment was too short, wasnt accepted. Maybe now its long enough.
In a perfect world, Russia, Putin, Zelisnky and Ukraine would all annihilate each other and leave the rest of us alone.