Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam to Break Away from Moscow Patriarch

A Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam announced on March 12 that it will split with the Moscow patriarchate over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The clergy unanimously announced that it is no longer possible for them to function within the Moscow patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for our faithful,” the church announced in a statement on its website, following an “extraordinary meeting” due to threats to the parish and the clergy.

“This decision is extremely painful and difficult for all concerned,” the church further said.

The church said the clergy has asked Archbishop Elisey of the diocese of the Netherlands, who is based in The Hague, to grant their church “canonical dismissal.”

The clergy also requested the Metropolitan Athenogaros of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to include them in his diocese.

The parish, which consists of four priests and a deacon, is one of the biggest Russian Orthodox congregations in the Netherlands.

The move is the first known instance of a western-based church cutting ties over the Russian invasion.

The announcement came after the parish disagreed with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who gave his “full support” for the invasion and referred to the Russian opponents in Ukraine as “evil forces.”

The March 5 statement went against the official policy of the Russian Orthodox church to not describe the Russian attacks in Ukraine as “war” and “invasion.”

Archbishop Elisey made an unannounced visit after the earlier statement, warning that “Moscow was watching their actions closely,” Russian priests in Amsterdam told the Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad.

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