Remember those pictures of the kindly Orthodox priests, protesting in the Ukraine? They’re back in the news again.
The Huffington Post reports that the political situation in Ukraine is causing the local churches to take sides, and escalating an already tense environment.
Metropolitan Hilaron, the foreign relations head of the Russian Orthodox Church, attempted to travel eastern Ukraine, a predominately Russian- speaking area, on May 9th. He came in order to visit a local bishop on his birthday, but the metropolitan was detained at the airport for over two hours, and was denied a visa for entry.
The religious tensions in Ukraine mirror the political: the east is primarily Russian Orthodox, and speaks Russian, and are more friendly towards Russia. The central and western parts of the country tend to be Greek Catholic, as well as local varieties of Orthodox. It was these clergy who participated in the protests earlier in the year. The Russian Orthodox and the local Orthodox, as well as the Greek Catholics have never gotten along–each being suspicious that the other either wants to steal souls for the pope, or for Russia.
The metropolitan issued a statement upon returning to Moscow, offering his services to moderate the conflict in the Ukraine, but said himself that few would trust the Russian Orthodox to be impartial.
Read the whole article here. And continue to pray for peace.