Kiev, September 26, 2018
The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) held a meeting at the Kiev Caves Lavra under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine yesterday at which it urged the Verkhovna Rada, the national parliament, to abandon the anti-constitutional and anti-Orthodox bills that are currently under its consideration.
According to the official UOC site, the Synod called on all participants working on the implementation of draft laws No. 4128 (on changing the affiliation of religious communities), No. 4511 (on the special status of religious organizations), and No. 5309 (on the renaming of religious organizations) to abandon these legislative intentions as contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and anti-ecclesiastical in nature.
These bills “are aimed at the legal liquidation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by a raider seizure through the changing of its name, by unlawful interference in its governing bodies, and through the seizure of property (sacred objects, churches, and monasteries,” the Synod affirmed.
Orthodox primates from around the world have previously condemned the bills as well.
The documents from yesterday’s meeting note that the UOC is a registered religious association operating in accordance with Ukrainian law, and that any coercion to change its name is illegal and qualifies as interference in the internal affairs of the Church.
However, in his annual address to the Verkhovna Rada on September 20, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared that the UOC would be forcefully renamed the “Russian Orthodox Church.” The name change would then allow the Ukrainian government to identify the UOC as the Church of an “aggressor state,” as Ukraine considers Russia, and thus it would fall under bill No. 4511, “On the special status of religious organizations with headquarters located in states recognized by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as aggressor states,” which proposes that such religious organizations be able to appoint metropolitans and bishops only in agreement with the governing authorities. The same bill also gives the government the right to forbid a confession if its representatives cooperate with religious centers in “aggressor states.”
Poroshenko and the Rada ignore that the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church officially recognized in November that the that the center of administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is located in Kiev.
The Synod also warned the deputies involved in the aforementioned bills that their legal adoption will further artificially divide the people and make millions of Ukrainian citizens strangers in their own country.
At the same session, the Ukrainian Synod also demanded that the Ecumenical Patriarchate cease interfering in Ukrainian internal Church affairs.
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