Moscow, February 27, 2019
A special statement on the situation in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was adopted by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its session yesterday, reports the press service of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Synod again notes the lamentable situation of increased persecution that has arisen in Ukraine thanks to Constantinople’s interference in Church life there, and calls upon the other Local Orthodox Churches to support their suffering brethren and the Ukrainian authorities to cease its persecutions.
The statement reads in full:
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church notes with deep concern the sharp deterioration of the situation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The granting by the Patriarchate of Constantinople of a “tomos of autocephaly” to the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” artificially created by the merger of two schismatic organizations, further strengthened the division between the Orthodox of Ukraine and significantly exacerbated inter-confessional relations.
Of particular concern is the gross interference of the state authorities of Ukraine in the internal Church life and attempts by politicians to use the Church in opportunistic interests. At the same time, the fundamental rights and human freedoms enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution are flagrantly trampled upon.
Discriminatory laws have been adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and entered into force, the purpose of which is to deprive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its name and to legalize the seizure of its churches and monasteries. The faithful of the canonical Church are also stricken in other rights: Its clergy are deprived of the opportunity to meaningfully nourish soldiers, law enforcement officers, and prisoners.
It is becomingly increasingly clear that the aim of the representatives of the current state powers is the liquidation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The local authorities and law enforcement agencies were given recommendations to maximally facilitate the transfer of Ukrainian Orthodox Church communities into schism.
There are threats of taking the largest monasteries and historical holy sites from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—the Kiev Caves Lavra and the Pochaev Lavra.
The majority of cases of churches being taken from their religious communities happen contrary to their decisions to remain in the canonical Church. The decision of the religious community is replaced by the vote of a general assembly of citizens who most often are not members of the parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The minutes of such meetings are immediately approved by the authorities, after which the church is seized with the assistance of security forces.
This lawlessness has led to a surge of violence against the clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Despite the assurances of the leadership of Ukraine and the Patriarchate of Constantinople about the peaceful character of the so-called “unification of Ukrainian Orthodox,” dozens of churches have been seized by breaking in, with the support of paramilitary groups, often with the beating of priests and the faithful of the canonical Church, trying to defend their holy sites. Dozens of communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are forced to gather for prayer in private homes or on the street.
In this difficult situation, we call upon all faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church to strengthen their prayers for their suffering brothers in Ukraine, that they might be granted courage and Christian patience in their stand for holy Orthodoxy.
We appeal to the state authorities of Ukraine with a call to cease the persecution against their own citizens who do not want to join the schism.
We entreat our fraternal Local Orthodox Churches to prayerfully support the persecuted Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
We call upon the global community to be attentive to the blatant facts of the violation of human rights and to give a proper assessment to the gross interference of the Ukrainian state in the affairs of the Church.
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