02 March 2022, The Tablet

Ukraine, invasion and the Orthodox Church

Ukraine, invasion and the Orthodox Church

A priest of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church celebrates Mass in an air-raid shelter.
Photo: © Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church


Most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians. And the divisions between them may be a key to the outcome of the war

Many think that Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, promised Vladimir Putin that Russian troops would be welcomed with a red carpet when they began making incursions into Ukraine in 2014, writes Anatolii Babynskyi. When it became clear this wasn’t so, it caused a cooling of relations between the Patriarch and the President. The resistance being shown by the people of Ukraine in the face of the troops who have come to “liberate” them has again astonished the Russian leadership. How can Putin have so badly misjudged us? (Inset, a priest of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church celebrates Mass in an air-raid shelter.)

We all woke at 5 am on Thursday 24 February, because relatives and friends were calling each other, spreading the terrifying message: “It’s all started.” Up to the last hour, it was hard for us to believe that it could happen in the twenty-first century, in a part of Europe that the historian Timothy Snyder has aptly called the Bloodlands, where war and the brutal social experiments of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes killed fourteen million civilians.

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