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ROC - the basis of religious support for the war against Ukraine

Apr 2, 2024

In the Russian-Ukrainian war, the Kremlin largely depends on the religious structures under its control. The dominant role in the religious propaganda of the war is occupied by the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).


The activity of this structure is directly supervised by the FSB of the Russian Federation, writes the Center of National Resistance.

The branch of this structure on the territory of Ukraine remains the so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The clergy of this denomination refused to mourn the dead Ukrainian soldiers and honor them. Many people remember the episode when the Verkhovna Rada, where there were also representatives of different faiths, offered to honor Ukrainian fallen heroes with a minute of silence. However, only the Head of the UOC (MP), Metropolitan Onufry (Berezovsky) and the Hierarchs of this church refused to rise.

There are many facts confirming that the clergy of this organization directly contributed to the aggression against Ukraine, or were used for the projection of "soft power" through sermons and appeals to believers.

Russia used the opportunities of the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate for reconnaissance before the annexation of Crimea and the provision of weapons to Russian militants in the Donbass in 2014. This was repeatedly confirmed during SBU searches of religious facilities under the control of this denomination. They also found Russian passports, pro-Russian literature, "documents" of occupation administrations and Russian symbols.

Now, with the assistance of the FSB, the ROC is carrying out a violent seizure of churches and religious complexes not only of the former UOC MP, but also of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine.

Priests who refuse to come under the ROC are under moral and physical pressure from the occupiers.

Cases of brutal torture of Ukrainian priests and pastors of Protestant denominations are also known.

More and more, the Kremlin is importing clerics from the territory of Russia. On March 27, under the leadership of Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev, the Russian People's Council adopted an "order" where the Russian invasion of Ukraine was officially launched as a war, even a "sacred" one. This is another strengthening of militarist rhetoric, after the "re-election" of Putin, to promote mobilization into the Russian occupation army.

Also, this week, an instruction was sent to all parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding the daily "prayer for Holy Russia". The text of this prayer was first published by the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill Gundyaev on September 25, 2022.

This propaganda prayer is the quintessence of the Russian world for the parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church. It contains an encrypted conspiracy theory about the intention of foreign forces to divide the "united Russian people" and emphasizes the need to unite against the external aggressor and a request for assistance in the actions of the occupying Russian troops.

So, the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian aggression against Ukraine plays the following role:

  • Patriotic propaganda: Priests act as patriotic symbols, supporting the idea of the unity of Russia and supporting military actions against Ukraine. They pray for the victory and protection of Russia.
  • Moral support of the military: Clergymen regularly visit military units, provide "spiritual" support to military personnel and discuss military events, arguing them with biblical stories taken out of context.
  • Legitimization of military actions: ROC uses its resources to legitimize military actions of Russia against Ukraine. They justify the war by protecting the "Orthodox faith, culture and Russian values."
  • Religious mobilization: The clergy call on the faithful to support military actions, using religious arguments and images, in order to persuade them to participate in the war in the ranks of the Russian occupation troops.
  • Symbolism and rituals: the Russian Orthodox Church conducts religious rites, prayers and public events (cross processions) in support of the Kremlin's militaristic ideology and military actions.

In such conditions, the population in the occupied territories of Ukraine should distance themselves from representatives of this faith. Clerics of this organization should definitely not be trusted with the sacrament of confession. Ukrainian representatives of the clergy and believers will have to form underground church cells. For this, the experience of the functioning of the Ukrainian church in the underground during the communist occupation of Ukraine should be mentioned.

Author - Serhii Kolomiets, 03/04/2024

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