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The Ukrainian legislature is moving toward a ban on its historic Orthodox church due to concerns about Russian ties.
Law 8371 would grant the Ukrainian government power to investigate and ban Ukrainian religious authorities with connections to Russia.
It was overwhelmingly approved with a vote of 267-15.
‘PUTIN’S CONFESSOR’ NAMED BISHOP OF ANNEXED UKRAINIAN TERRITORY
The Verkhovna Rada supported a ban on the activities of religious organizations connected to Russia in Ukraine, which can terminate the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. (Andrii Nesterenko/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
A second vote on the bill is necessary before being presented to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for final approval as a law.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) is part of the greater Eastern Orthodox Church and formerly operated under the direct jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Moscow Patriarch Kirill is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has offered spiritual support for the invasion of Ukraine.
UKRAINE ASKS COURT TO PUT ORTHODOX LEADER UNDER HOUSE ARREST
Metropolitan Epiphanius, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, takes part in a ceremony of consecration of icons painted on plates from bulletproof vests used by Ukrainian servicemen at St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv. (Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)
The UOC formally split from the Russian Orthodox Church in May 2022, declaring itself autocephalous and autonomous.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), founded in 1995, became official in 2018 with the approval of Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, who oversaw the separation after a unification council.
Following the decision, a crisis of continuity has arisen between the UOC, the Russian Orthodox Church, and those clerics and laity who have assumed the name Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
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Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill conducts the Easter service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. (Sergei Vlasov, Russian Orthodox Church Press Service via AP)
Both the UOC and the OCU claim to be completely severed from Russian influence, but accusations of Putin-aligned sympathies have kept them a national talking point.
The new law, if passed, would grant the Ukrainian government freedom to dismantle the UOC for the sake of national security.
The Russian Orthodox Church continues to consider churches under the UOC and OCU as part of their church, appointing bishops in the contested territories.
Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at [email protected]