STORY: Believers gathered in the crowded Uspenskiy Cathedral which until the end of 2022 was leased by an Orthodox branch with ties to Moscow.
Epifaniy I. called upon the believers to condemn war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine and asked God to help Ukraine win the war.
"Help us to defeat the enemy, who brought grief into our home. Help us to finally drive out the foreign invasion from the Ukrainian land. Thanks to the victory of truth, (God) may establish a just and continued peace."
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), formerly known as the Moscow Patriarchate, were evicted by the government from the Uspenskiy cathedral as their lease of the shrine ended on December 31.
Ukrainian's Culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko announced the handover of the cathedral to the Kyiv-backed Orthodox Church of Ukraine on Thursday (January 5).