Russian Church disapproves of Catholic support of Kyiv patriarchy

Roman Catholic Bishop Bronislaw Bernadski of Odessa and the Crimea has signed a petition against the organizers of a rally to protest a recent visit by Filaret Denisenko, leader of the breakaway Kyiv patriarchy, to Odessa.

Fifty religious organizations in Odessa headed by the local envoy of the Kyiv patriarchy have accused the protest's organizers of trying "to destabilize the situation under the guise of religious slogans."

The Moscow Patriarchy was appalled by a Roman Catholic bishop having signed the appeal.

"What is surprising is that the renegades have been joined by a Roman Catholic bishop, while the Vatican has been telling us that it recognizes the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, an autonomous part of the Moscow Patriarchy, as the canonical Orthodox Christian Church in Ukraine," Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Foreign Relations Division, told Interfax on Tuesday.

"Orthodox Christians feel it necessary to protest when the so- called Kyiv patriarchy tries to expand its influence to southern Ukraine artificially by appealing to the authorities. Nobody can deprive people of their right to peaceful protest, even in very resolute terms," he said.

The Kyiv patriarchy was registered in 1992. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office ruled in 2001 that the registration was illegal.

In past years, the Kyiv patriarchy has taken over numerous churches owned by the canonical Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchy and has never followed court orders to return the churches to their legal owners.