Archpriest ALEXEY UMINSKY, Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow)

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Archpriest Alexey Uminsky

Archpriest Alexey Uminsky (b. 1960), from 1993 to early 2024 — rector of the Life-Giving Trinity church in Khokhly, Moscow, Russia; a Christian publicist.

Very Rev. Uminsky refused to read the Prayer for Holy Rus’ for the ‘victory’ of the Russian army over Ukraine. He spoke in the media with an anti-war position. For example, on 16 November 2023, in an interview with Alexey Venediktov’s Living Nail channel, he criticised the use of military rhetoric by clergy, including during the liturgy. He advised parishioners to look for a liturgical space with little of or even completely without such rhetoric. The text version of the interview was published on the Echo website.

On 3 January 2024, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who is the ruling bishop of the Moscow eparchy, removed Uminsky from the rectorship of the parish and banned him from active ministry until the consideration of his case by the Disciplinary Commission of the Eparchial Council of Moscow. Archpriest Andrei Tkachev was appointed rector of the Life-Giving Trinity church. Tkachev endorsed the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Uminsky’s removal became known on 5 January 2024 from his parishioners. The decree was published only on 10 January 2024.

On 6 January 2024, Mikhail Tyurenkov, a Tsargrad TV columnist, discussed the possibility of an ecclesiastical trial leading to defrocking Uminsky: “This cleric has been engaged in opposition political activities not just for years, but for decades, although not directly. However, this made his activities even more dangerous. He established an entire subculture around himself. It can roughly be defined as ‘ortoliberals’, that is, political liberals hiding in the shadows of Orthodoxy”.

Representatives of the Orthodox community, mainly laity of the Russian Orthodox Church, addressed Patriarch Kirill with an open letter calling on him to reconsider the decision to remove Uminsky. On 9-11 January 2024, the letter attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

On 11, 12 and 13 January 2024, three sessions of the Moscow ecclesiastical court were held to consider the case of Archpriest Uminsky. All three sessions took place in the absence of the accused. The court decided to defrock the priest for allegedly “violating the priestly Oath (oathbreaking)” for “refusal to abide the Patriarchal blessing to read the Prayer for Holy Rus’ during the Divine Liturgy.” The judges referred to the Cannon 25 of the Holy Apostles.

The decision came into force on 8 February 2024, following the approval of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who issued a decree defrocking Archpriest Alexey Uminsky.