Ukrainian Orthodox Synod Deems ‘Russian World’ Doctrine Heretical, Putin ‘Self-Excommunicated’

The Orthodox Church of Ukrainian (OCU) officially deemed the so-called “Russky mir” (Russian world) doctrine as a false religious teaching and essentially heretical, at a synod of bishops held on May 11.

The Holy Synod resolution stated: “The Orthodox Church of Ukraine rejects and condemns the doctrine of the ‘Russian world’ as based on the heretical principles of ethnophyletism [holding nation or tribe above God], Manichaeism and Gnosticism.”

The OCU bishops said that ‘Russian world’ doctrine propagandists and the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate are subject to the condemnation expressed by the Church regarding these heretical teachings until they publicly renounce them.

In addition, the Synod also decided to send a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew with a request to force Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) Patriarch Kirill (Gundiaev) to publicly renounce the false teaching of the “Russian world,” to condemn and revoke the resolutions of so-called Russian World People’s Council, which propagate elements of the doctrine.

Putin self-excommunicated

While saying that the OCU does not have direct canonical authority to formally excommunicate or anathemize individuals who do not belong to the OCU, the synod resolution nevertheless offered a workaround to official excommunication:

“Taking into account the general Orthodox Christian teaching about unrepentant mortal sins that separate a person from God and Church, taking into account the particular gravity, public nature and stubborn impenitence of the crimes against God, the Church of Christ and humanity, committed by a layman of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the Council certifies that this person has excommunicated himself from the Church by his crimes and stubborn and deliberate impenitence in public sins.”

The OCU bishops stated again that they were ready for dialogue with the Moscow-linked church in Ukraine and expressed their “deep regret for constant refusal by the leadership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) in Ukraine to engage such a dialogue.”

The synod stated that the Moscow Patriarchate’s extension of its jurisdiction in Ukraine is a canonical violation and anomaly. It called on the clergy and laity, who still remain under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate to continue the process of unification with the OCU and to not be afraid of the so-called “bans” and “deprivations,” because of their supposed “non-canonical status.”

The decision of the synod comes against the backdrop of the slow transition of religious communities of the UOC-MP to the OCU.

Since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, 685 churches have transferred from the Moscow-linked UOC-MP to the OCU, which is based in Kyiv and subordinate to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. In the past year, 96 parishes have transferred to the authority of the OCU and more than 8,000 churches still linked to Moscow are currently operating in Ukraine.

About 63 percent of Ukrainians believe that the UOC-MP should be completely banned in Ukraine.

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