Kiev, November 19, 2018
The staff of the Ukrainian Security Service have begun summoning several bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Church (UOC) to “conversations,” reports the head of the Church’s legal department Archpriest Alexander Bakhov.
The Ukrainian Security Service is the successor to the soviet KGB in Ukraine.
“Against the background of recent events around the UOC, this is wholly expected, even indicative. But I want to note that procedural law does not allow for such forms of communication, as “conversations” or “talks.” Therefore, dear hierarchs and fathers, I doubt they’ll be speaking with you about God!” Fr. Alexander writes.
The “invitations” began going out after the November 13 session of the Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in which the hierarchs declared the October 11 decisions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople uncanonical and that they were affirming the break in communion with Constantinople declared by the Russian Holy Synod on October 15. They also called for Ukrainian schismatics to show their repentance in order to return to the Church, whereas Constantinople received them by request only.
“In this regard, remember! The first and most important thing—fear not! (Rev. 2:10). You have the right to know who is calling you where, why, what for, and in what capacity!” Fr. Alexander urged the hierarchs.
He also asked the hierarchs to require that an official “invitation” be sent from the security forces, as per Chapter 11 of the criminal procedure code, and that a lawyer be present at the “conversations,” as everyone has the right to legal representation according to Article 59 of the Ukrainian constitution.
He also reminded that Ukrainian citizens have the right not to testify against themselves or family members, as per Article 63 of the constitution.
According to Ukrainian political analyst Elena Dyachenko, speaking on CapitalTV, Constantinople has placed the condition that the canonical Ukrainian Church must also be involved in the plans for granting autocephaly, though it has long been known that the canonical Church will not participate in the union council.
President Poroshenko initially intended to meet with the bishops of the canonical Church at the Kiev Caves Lavra on November 13, though he became irate when he changed the venue to the secular Ukrainian House, the former Kiev branch of the Lenin Museum, and the bishops as a whole declined to meet him there, though three bishops did meet with him.
Against this background, it seems likely that the Security Service has now been tasked with the job that Poroshenko failed to do—of getting the canonical hierarchs on board with the autocephaly plans.
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