Photo from UNIAN

Individuals, of course, can continue to move from one church to another; but the Moscow Patriarchate, by re-writing parish charters in Ukraine so that they specify that the parish buildings and property are controlled by the patriarchate and not by the parishioners, can block parishes from voting to leave collectively and take church buildings and other property with them, according to EuromaidanPress.

In the words of TSN reporter Sergey Galchenko, such move “completely destroys the Ukrainian structure of the church, transforming it into a reflection of the Russian Orthodox Church” in Russia and thus, “in fact, taking the churches away from their parishioners.”

Read alsoMajor Abp Shevchuk to int'l community: 'Stop war in Ukraine' – mediaThis is a very big deal for both Moscow and Kyiv, the publication writes. For the Moscow Patriarchate and the Kremlin, more than 12,000 parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate's church in Ukraine form more than a third of the religious communities there, allowing enormous opportunities for Russian influence, as well as represent almost half of all Moscow Patriarchate's churches in total, thus being an important source of revenue.

For Kyiv, it represents an equally large challenge. Many Ukrainian political leaders have expressed hope that the steps toward autocephaly for the country's church could be speeded by having congregations and even bishoprics switch sides.