On Thursday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the country.
"A meeting of the National Security Defense Council (NSDC) was held today. A meeting at which we examined numerous facts of the ties of certain religious circles in Ukraine with the aggressor state," Zelensky said in a taped statement.
"It is necessary to create such conditions in which any figures dependent on the aggressor country will not be able to manipulate Ukrainians and weaken Ukraine from within," he said.
"The NDSC instructed the government to submit to the Verkhovna Rada a bill on the impossibility of the activities of religious organizations affiliated with the centers of influence in the Russian Federation in Ukraine," he added.
"In addition, the state Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience has been instructed to ensure the religious studies examination of the Statute on the Management of the UOC (Ukrainian Orthodox Church) for the presence of a church canonical connection with the Moscow Patriarchate and if necessary, apply the measures provided for by law," Zelensky concluded.
According to the New York Times, Ukrainian officials have suspected that many priests within the church are collaborating with Russia and promoting pro-Russia views.
Zelensky’s request comes following a November 22 raid by Ukrainian security services at the Monastery of the Caves, a holy site for Orthodox Christians in Kyiv. Officials were searching for saboteurs and weapons.
Ukrainian officials have, as of last month, arrested 33 priests for assisting Russia throughout the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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