Zaporozhye, Ukraine, November 21, 2018
Those who are organizing pressure against the canonical Ukrainian Church are infected by sin, His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol said in a recent video.
In his view, this includes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, whom the metropolitan calls a “modern persecutor of the Church” in his video response about his visit with the Ukrainian Security Service who have begun calling Ukrainian hierarchs and clergy for “conversations.”
Answering the question of what to expect in the future, following the Security Service “conversations,” Met. Luke noted that the enemy of mankind cannot and does not stop, nor does the person who has taken the devil’s path.
The hierarch, who has been rather outspoken about recent Church events, explained:
When our Church showed its unity, 82 bishops clearly stated their position in favor of the existing canonical status of the UOC headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, when we, so to speak, refused to go to the house bearing the name of the persecutor of the Church [the Ukrainian House was previously the Kiev branch of the Lenin Museum and is still widely known by that name—OC] to meet with the modern persecutor of the Church, it speaks of but one thing—that the people who are organizing this, by whose command all of this is being arranged, are infected by a terrible sin, the sin of hatred.
Met. Luke is referring to the meeting between Poroshenko and the bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Church that was planned for November 13. The President and Met. Onuphry initially agreed that the meeting would take place at the Kiev Caves Lavra though Poroshenko later tried to change the venue to the Ukrainian House. The bishops of the Church, already gathered at the Lavra, voted against changing their plans and meeting with Poroshenko at the former Lenin Museum, though three bishops did meet with him there, as was their right.
As for his meeting with the Security Service, Met. Luke noted that they did not ask him any questions about the plans for autocephaly in Ukraine but rather mainly about his travels abroad, warning him to be on alert in his travels.
Meanwhile, in another video, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s legal department, spoke about the pressure that is being placed on the bishops of the Ukrainian Church to give up their support for the canonical Church and to instead join the movement to create a new church in Ukraine.
As the priest notes, the pressure from the state and “activists” and the invitations to meet with the Security Service began after the hierarchs’ November 13 resolutions declaring their intention to remain faithful to the Church and resist Constantinople’s uncanonical innovations in Ukraine.
“Today, actions from various forces are being carried out to pressure the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as evidenced by a number of pickets and illegal actions at diocesan administration buildings and the residences of bishops of the UOC,” Fr. Alexander explained.
Fr. Alexander also notes that information about the bishops’ stance on the autocephaly issue as well as their place of residence and their movements is being systematically published to draw attention and try to discredit them in the public’s eye.
This pressure and these provocations, which he notes violate the hierarchs’ constitutional rights, “are aimed at bishops in order to pressure and force them to participate in the so-called ‘unification council.’”
“Look at what is written on their posters, why do the picketers wear masks, why do they damage property, why have they appeared now. Why do they publish bishops’ personal information? They tell the bishops that supposedly, ‘We invite you to a conversation.’ But what’s the context of this conversation?... This is, in a certain way, psychological pressure,” Fr. Alexander emphasized.
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