Donetsk, December 10, 2018
The press service of the Donetsk Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reported yesterday “with deep indignation and bewilderment” that its ruling hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk and Mariupol was denied entry into the Kiev-controlled area of the Donetsk Province, where he was traveling to celebrate the feast of the Znamenny Icon of the Mother of God at the Holy Dormition-St. Nicholas-St.Basil Monastery in the village of Nikolskoe in the Volnovakha Region of the Donetsk Province.
The hierarch was on his way from Donetsk to pray at the monastery at today’s feast with other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Church, the inhabitants of the monastery, and numerous pilgrims, when he was stopped at the Novotroitskoe checkpoint and denied entry.
Met. Hilarion also traditionally visits the local poorhouse and meets with the monastics and numerous believers from various regions of Ukraine, those these plans were “arrogantly and provocatively thwarted,” the press service writes.
This action comes just one month after His Eminence Archbishop Ambrose of Verey, the rector of the Moscow Theological Academy was barred entry into Kiev, where he had been invited to attend feast day celebrations at the Kiev Theological Seminary at the Kiev Caves Lavra.
The Security Service employee who stopped the metropolitan informed him that he was blocked on “special order from Kiev.”
Further, Met. Hilarion was blatantly lied to about the details: The Security Service employee told him his electronic pass has been canceled on December 7, but Met. Hilarion had already traveled from the Holy Synod session at the Kiev Caves Lavra back to Donetsk on December 8 and experienced no problems crossing the demarcation line.
Blocking the Ukrainian hierarch is a direct violation of article 33 of the Ukrainian constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement to Ukrainian citizens, and a number of articles from the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which Ukraine ratified in 1997.
“Such actions testify to the unwillingness of certain forces to establish peace, as in the state of conflict, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the only connecting link that has authority on both sides of the line of demarcation,” the diocesan website reads.
Despite any artificially-created line of demarcation and any restrictions of rights by the government, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church remains united both geographically and in prayer, the press service writes.
This incident is yet another example of pressure and persecution against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the run-up to Constantinople’s “unification council,” where a new church will be created in Ukraine with government patronage. Bishops’ and priests’ homes and churches and diocesan offices have been searched, priests have been interrogated in regard to charges of inciting religious hatred and treason, “inventories” of sacred items at the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras have been arbitrarily carried out, the right to he buildings of the Pochaev Lavra has been legally removed from the brotherhood, and bishops have been called in for “conversations” with the Ukrainian Security Service.
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