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Some of Ukraine's Orthodox churches want to break away from their Russian patriarch

Services at Church of St. George on Sunday in Lviv, Ukraine.
Claire Harbage
/
NPR
Services at Church of St. George on Sunday in Lviv, Ukraine.

On the day that Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Church of St. George in Lviv, in western Ukraine, posted a sign on its front gate condemning Russia.

The church belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, whose leadership has defended the Russian invasion as recently as this past Sunday.

At a key moment in services at the Church of St. George, when bearded, golden-robed priests carry bread and wine to the altar, they normally invoke the name of their bishop in Moscow, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. But now some are refusing to say his name.

Julian Hayda contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A woman blesses herself before arriving for Sunday services.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
A woman blesses herself before arriving for Sunday services.
Kseniya Kotyk fled from Kyiv with her mother to Lviv and is heading into the Church of St. George. Kotyk is named after a Russian saint. When she fled Russian bombardment, she grabbed what was most important to her: icons or statues of Russian Orthodox saints.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Kseniya Kotyk fled from Kyiv with her mother to Lviv and is heading into the Church of St. George. Kotyk is named after a Russian saint. When she fled Russian bombardment, she grabbed what was most important to her: icons or statues of Russian Orthodox saints.
On the day of the invasion, the Church of St. George, in western Ukraine, posted a sign on its front gate condemning Russia.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
On the day of the invasion, the Church of St. George, in western Ukraine, posted a sign on its front gate condemning Russia.
A service at the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine, is packed with worshipers praying for Ukraine on Sunday.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
A service at the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine, is packed with worshipers praying for Ukraine on Sunday.
Worshippers light candles at the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine, on Sunday.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Worshippers light candles at the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine, on Sunday.
Priests omitted a Moscow bishop's name during services at the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine, on Sunday. Theologians say the move marks a significant shift in the Orthodox Christian world.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Priests omitted a Moscow bishop's name during services at the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine, on Sunday. Theologians say the move marks a significant shift in the Orthodox Christian world.
Some parishioners of the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine, said Sunday they're conflicted about whether to denounce the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. Kirill defended Russia's invasion of Ukraine as recently as this past Sunday.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Some parishioners of the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine, said Sunday they're conflicted about whether to denounce the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. Kirill defended Russia's invasion of Ukraine as recently as this past Sunday.
Ukraine's Orthodox churches like the one pictured here — the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine — are now fractured by Russia's invasion — and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch's defense of the invasion as recently as this past Sunday.
Claire Harbage / NPR
/
NPR
Ukraine's Orthodox churches like the one pictured here — the Church of St. George in Lviv, Ukraine — are now fractured by Russia's invasion — and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch's defense of the invasion as recently as this past Sunday.

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.
Iryna Matviyishyn

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