Why Does Priest Iakov Vorontsov Want to Create Church Independent of Moscow in Kazakhstan

cover Photo: Iakov Vorontsov\'s Facebook

Orthodox priest Iakov Vorontsov has announced that he intends to create an autocephalous Orthodox Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan independent of the Moscow Patriarchate, reports Orda.kz .

He wrote about this on his Facebook page on December 4th, 2023. According to Father Iakov, the most recent reason for this was the collection of signatures under a statement asking the prosecutor's office to conduct an investigation and hold Vorontsov accountable for inciting discord. Signatures were collected this past Sunday at the Resurrection Cathedral in Almaty.

Photo: Iakov Vorontsov's Facebook

This is the second attempt to hold Vorontsov accountable. The first attempt: an electronic statement sent to the police by an unknown person demanding that a criminal case be opened for inciting hatred. As a result, the police called Vorontsov in for questioning. As the priest told an Orda journalist in an interview, this led to the resurfacing of the idea to create an autocephalous Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan.

"I didn't want any publicity, activity. I wanted to live in peace. But they attacked me, they want to open a criminal case against me. When I found out all this, I thought that I would still have to speak in court and be visible. And I decided that I needed to do what I started. If they want to put me in jail, then I will go down at least for a cause, and not just like that,  says Father Iakov.

The priest admits that he does not understand why representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) chose to initiate criminal proceedings. Vorontsov does not rule out that this may be a result of Moscow's pressure.

Currently, the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan is represented only by the ROC of the Moscow Patriarchate. As the priest explained, in order to create an autocephalous Orthodox Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan, it is necessary that a representative office of the Patriarchate of Constantinople or another local church come here. Conditionally, Georgian, Greek or Bulgarian.

There were representations of both Constantinople and Alexandria in Russia. But Moscow broke off relations with everyone. Maybe we will have such a center? Nonetheless, I have sent a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul. Maybe my letter won't be enough and I'll have to write a collective letter. But I am 100% sure that things will work out,Iakov said.

The priest stated earlier that the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan should be autonomous.

The precedent for the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox Church in the post-Soviet space was created in 2018. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine was established then. Its higher patriarchate ended up being not Moscow, but Constantinople.

Father Iakov Vorontsov has become widely known since the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine. As an Orthodox priest, he condemned the Russian invasion and later publicly expressed an anti-war position. It runs counter to the ROC MP's official position. The consequence: initially a suspension from service at the Cathedral of the Ascension and a "assignment" to Aqtobe for several months, and then transfer to the Almaty Epiphany Church. Later, Father Iakov announced that he would discontinue his service with the ROC MP.

Father Iakov Vorontsov is also known as one of the few Orthodox priests conducting services in the Kazakh language.

Original Author: Igor Ulitin

DISCLAIMER: This is a translation. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original piece in Russian for accuracy. 

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