Following the Ukrainian government’s removal of the lease of the Moscow-backed Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU-MP) for the 11th century Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery, the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church today held a Liturgy there.

The Liturgy was held in the Trapezna Church on the highly symbolic site. It is being led by Metropolitan Epiphany of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Ukrainian language. Services by the Moscow-backed church also took place on the site today.

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There were no confrontations between the faithful or clergy of the two Churches.

The independent Church's move to hold a Liturgy at the Lavra comes as social change sweeps the religious scene in Ukraine. Over the last year, hundreds of parishes have switched their allegiances from the Moscow-affiliated church to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has been recognised through a ‘tomos’ by the overall Eastern Orthodox faith as having domain over Ukraine. Regional and municipal governments have also moved to cancel other leases held by the Moscow-back church.

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These changes come in part due to many believers’ view that the OCU-MP has continued to support Moscow during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The OCU-MP’s leader, Pavel, is currently under house arrest during an investigation of whether he has ‘glorified’ Russian aggression against Ukraine.

For Orthodox believers, today marks Palm Sunday (‘Verbna Nedilya’), the day of the return of Jesus to Jerusalem prior to the events of Easter. Ukrainians use budding branches of the willow tree as symbols of palms. Roman Catholics in Ukaine and elsewhere mark Easter today.

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