A church court over Father Ioann Koval, a clergyman at St. Andrew’s Church in Moscow’s Lublino district, decided to strip him of his ministry, the Sova Center reported in a May 15 dispatch to Kasparov.Ru.
In the prayer “On Holy Russia,” which was sent out to all churches after Russia started the war in Ukraine, Priest Koval replaced the word “victory” with the word “peace.”
According to Pravmir.ru, instead of the phrase “Rise, O God, to the aid of Your people and give us Your victory by Your power”, he pronounced “Rise, O God, to the aid of Your people and give us Your peace by Your power”.
Afterwards, the priest was prohibited from serving in February 2023, and at the May 11 sitting he was disbarred on charges of perjury under the 25th rule of the Holy Apostles.
In a conversation with Pravmir Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin, deputy chairman of the Eparchial Court of the Moscow diocese, noted: “Everyone takes an oath before ordination, by which he undertakes to strictly obey the orders of the clergy. [An oath] is a very broad norm that applies to a variety of situations, and in this case it was also appropriate”. According to him, all the members of the court made the decision unanimously.
Tsypin added that the point at issue was that Priest Koval had given his own version of the prayer that is recited in the church in connection with the military operation and had refused to comply with any kind of instructions from the vicar under whose rule he is. During the court hearing, Koval similarly stated that he would not change anything. When asked whether any substitution of a word in prayer is punishable by disbarment, the deputy head of the court stressed that the main reason was not the word “peace”, but the refusal in principle to obey the priesthood.
The ruling of the church court must be approved by the Patriarch. There is still a possibility to appeal.
According to the Open Orthodox Encyclopedia, Ioann Koval is 45 years old. He was born in 1978 in the Lugansk region of Ukraine. From 1985 to 1996, he studied at the Central Secondary Specialized School of Music at the Moscow Conservatory, from which he graduated in piano. During his studies at the school he was a singer. From 1996 to 2001, Koval studied full-time at the Moscow Orthodox Svyato-Tikhonovsky Institute of Theology and Pastoral Studies. On April 16, 2000, he was ordained a deacon. Koval has five sons, the eldest is 22 and the youngest is 9 years old.