Zaporozhye, Ukraine, March 16, 2018
Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
A story spread throughout Ukrainian and Western media in January when a man attacked Fr. Evgeny of the Zaporozhye Diocese of the Ukrainian Church who had declined to serve the funeral for his young son because the family members are parishioners of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP). As Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, explained, as the KP is schismatic and isolated from the Orthodox Church of Christ, the child was unbaptized in the eyes of the Orthodox Church, and thus, of course, the priest could not serve the child’s funeral.
According to prosecutors, the proceedings are based on the idea that “representatives of the Diocese of Zaporozhye of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate allow a selective approach to the implementation of religious rites, preferring those persons who underwent Baptism in the UOC-MP, thereby offending the religious sentiments of citizens in connection with their religious convictions.”
According to the Holy Synod, the criminal proceedings contain signs of persecution on religious grounds, stemming from a political point of view, and are nothing but an attempt to interfere in the internal life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Nationalistic Ukrainians often persecute clergy and parishioners of the canonical Church because they remain faithful to the Orthodox Church within the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Synod also drew attention to the fact that, in accordance with international law, state authorities have no right to interfere in the internal affairs of a religious community, and cannot dictate the order and method of a religious community celebrating or not celebrating its rites.
As Fr. Nikolai Danilevich had explained, the Synod reiterated that Church Sacraments and rites can be celebrated exclusively for members of the Church, which requires a true, Orthodox Baptism.