Zelensky: Ukraine seeks ‘spiritual independence,’ acts against church

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Ukraine’s punitive actions against a branch of the Orthodox church linked to Russia are part of a drive to achieve “spiritual independence,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday.

Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders have accused the long-established Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), itself under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, of undermining Ukrainian unity and collaborating with Moscow.

Authorities ordered the church last Friday to leave its base in the 980-year-old Pechersk Lavra monastery complex, prompting Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to ask Pope Francis and other religious leaders to help stop the crackdown.