Moscow, March 1, 2018
According to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, 50 parishes of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been forcefully seized by schismatics in recent years, reports Interfax-Religion.
“It’s a very difficult situation in Ukraine right now; there’s real persecution against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 50 churches have been forcefully seized in recent times. There are constant attacks on churches and priests are beaten… There’s shots where a priest in vestments is covered in blood, and they’re calling him an occupier, but he’s a Ukrainian, born in Ukraine, and speaks only Ukrainian. They beat him only because he’s in the canonical Church, which the local authorities call an occupying Church,” the patriarch said in an interview with Bulgarian media, on the eve of his visit to Bulgaria.
For example, radical nationalists in the Chernigov Province recently threatened the authorities for inviting the canonical Ukrainian Church to public events, saying, “If you cooperate with representatives of the aggressor country, it will be your responsibility and there will be appropriate consequences.”
The primate also expressed his regret that the West does not criticize Ukraine for violating human rights and religious freedom, and not just violations, but an “unspeakable violation, with the use of violence; it’s all been recorded—on television and in various documents.”
In Pat. Kirill’s view, Ukrainian society today is very divided, and what is happening in Donbass “is a civil war: Part of Ukraine does not accept what is happening in another part.” The sole force which has peacekeeping potential, in his opinion, is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, because it has a flock in both eastern and western Ukraine.
The radicals from Chernigov also declared that what is happening in Ukraine is not a civil war, because they see it as a battle between Russia and Ukraine, and the Russians are not, in their opinion, “fraternal people.”
“We greatly hope that all these political turbulences in Ukraine will pass, and the people will again live peacefully, and will respect human rights, religious freedom, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will continue its ministry. There is such hope. We pray for it,” the patriarch concluded.