Ukrainian orthodox against name change
© Sputnik
Ukrainian Orthodox believers rally against parliament bill, which can deprive the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its name. Sputnik
Kiev's new law demanding that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church change its name to show affiliation with Moscow is "insane" and may ignite "bloody conflicts," the primate of Russia's Orthodoxy has warned.

Ukraine's parliament recently passed a controversial bill which basically demands that any religious entity tied to Moscow change its name to reflect this fact. Kiev now wants it to be called the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, requiring the church to make the change within four months.

Commenting on the move, on Wednesday, Patriarch Kirill said the Ukrainian law was "completely insane in terms of modern law" and rules of secular state. In the West in particular, the government has nothing to do with what a church calls itself, he argued.

"When the state invents a name for a religious entity, desiring to discriminate and destroy it, it breaks all rights and laws of a civilized society," the Russian Patriarch said. The government's "openly blatant interference in church affairs" is unparalleled and leads to a "civilizational catastrophe."

Kiev's demand that Ukrainian Orthodox Church changes its name will be followed by reprisals and property disputes, according to the spiritual leader. "There's no doubt that coercive acts to appropriate churches will begin... and it risks sparking bloody conflicts," he warned.

Kirill, who leads the Orthodox faithful since 2009, lamented the crackdown on the church is "to break down the last connection between our [Ukrainian and Russian] people, which is spiritual one."

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church itself has already rejected the demand and asked President Petro Poroshenko to veto the law. It argued that the controversial legislation wouldn't be applicable to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

"Our charter says nothing about some foreign governing center," a spokesman for the church told Ukrainian media, stating that "our Church has no reasons to change its name."

Under the charter, the center of the church is located in Kiev and is governed by a ruling council called the Holy Synod. Patriarch Kirill serves as a spiritual head of the Ukrainian Church.

Earlier in December, Ukraine created an Orthodox church of its own, declaring a split from Moscow. The country hosts three Orthodox churches, yet only one of them - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate - is recognized by other churches.