Russian Patriarch Begins 9-Day Visit To Ukraine

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill will make a nine-day pastoral trip to neighboring Ukraine on July 20 in line with a new tradition launched last year to make annual visits.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

"Ukraine is very close to my heart for many reasons", Patriarch Kirill told Ukrainian media, adding that "quite positive" changes have occurred in Ukraine over recent months.

"It is these changes in the Ukrainian social life that I would like to see for myself", Patriarch Kirill said.

His first stop will be in Odessa in southern Ukraine.

Patriarch Kirill will then spend July 24 and 25 in Ukraine's third largest city, Dnepropetrovsk, and on the evening of July 25, he will travel to the capital Kiev where he will return to Moscow from.

The visit is no ordinary visit as the Patriarch is going to meet his congregation, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, said before the Patriarch's visit.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine split.

The Moscow Patriarchate still controls most parishes but the Kiev Patriarchate has managed to attract a large number of followers.

Source: Interfax

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