Amsterdam branch of Russian orthodox church breaks away over Ukraine

The entrance to the church in Amsterdam's Jordaan. Photo: Ramon van Flymen ANP/HH
The entrance to the church in Amsterdam’s Jordaan. Photo: Ramon van Flymen ANP/HH

The clergy at the Amsterdam parish of the Russian Orthodox Church are moving to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, another movement within the Eastern Orthodox churches, because of threats from the Russian Orthodox archbishop in the Netherlands.

Four priests and the dean took the decision to move because they do not support the Russian church’s backing for the invasion of Ukraine. ‘This decision is extremely painful and difficult for all concerned,’ the church officials said in a statement.

Last weekend the church told Dutch archbishop Elisey that priests would no longer include the name of church patriarch Kirill during services because of his full support for the war.

Elisey then turned up at mass in Amsterdam, reportedly in a car with diplomatic plates, and told church leaders that Russian foreign affairs ministry was following the church ‘with great interest’.

The church in Amsterdam has also been defaced with the letter Z, the controversial Russian symbol for the war in Ukraine.

The clergy’s decision to move support to another part of the orthodox church is supported by churchgoers, although the church itself is currently closed out of security concerns. A final vote on the decision will be taken on March 26.

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