Kiev, May 20, 2019
Although it has passed several bills aimed against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in recent months, the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has not shown support for a bill that would ban the Church from undertaking military chaplaincy work.
Between May 14 and 16, there were six unsuccessful votes on draft law No. 10279 on the regulation of chaplaincy activities in the armed forces of Ukraine and other military formations, introduced by former President Poroshenko, reports the Institute of Religious Freedom.
Moreover, Poroshenko had not consultation with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations before submitting draft law No. 10279 to the Rada. At the same time, bills No. 10244 and No. 10244-1 on chaplaincy, developed over the past three years in coordination with various religious communities and specialized experts, in particular the Council for Pastoral Care under the Ministry of Defense, are before the Parliament.
The Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Church notes that the tendency to give priority to schismatic groups and Uniates in the appointment of chaplains, contrary to the desire of soldiers themselves, began years ago. The Church learned in April 2017 that the general staff was refusing to fulfill requests for canonical Orthodox chaplains. In 2018, all commanders received an official directive not to allow chaplains of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
In September, People’s Deputy and Chairman of the Security and Defense Subcommittee Y. M. Bereza proposed banning the activity of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church “on the territory of all military formations, including the Border Service, National Guard, and Security Service.”
In turn, Chairman Committee S. V. Pashinsky agreed that “the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has no place in the army,” calling the prohibition of their ministry an “elementary thing.”
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