Kiev, November 23, 2018
The official website of the Ukrainian Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Defense has published a transcript of a meeting from September 5, during which the issue of restricting the rights and freedoms of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its faithful were openly discussed, reports the site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
According to the transcript, the 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.” He also noted that he had already addressed such a proposal to the acting Minister of Defense Lieutenant-General Petrenko.
During the discussion, the Chairman Committee S. V. Pashinsky proposed officially appealing to the President and te Minister of Defense. “We have such a right and possibility,” he said, confirming that the “problem” will finally be resolved after “receiving the tomos” of autocephaly from Constantinople.
This was supported by other deputies present.
“I think after we receive the tomos, Ukraine will have an independent Local Ukrainian Church as part of our independence and sovereignty. We will resolve these questions not only with the help of the Commander-in-Chief, but also with the help of the People’s Deputies too,” Bereza said.
“I thank you for your interested position and your desire and appeal, and I will certainly pass it to the President,” he added, noting that restricting the rights of the canonical Church is something Poroshenko has been doing for years: “But it clearly falls in line with the activities that the President of Ukraine has been carrying out for four years already.”
In turn, Pashinsky agreed that “the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has no place in the army,” calling the prohibition of their ministry an “elementary thing.”
Then, on November 1, the rector of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas at the educational-recreational complex of the Kiev military Lyceum of I. Bogun received a letter from the Kiev Housing and Maintenance Administration of the Ministry of Defense informing him that the Ukrainian Church was not allowed to be on the territory of military units, garrisons, military hospitals, and the like, and that he should bear that in mind in carrying out his clerical duties.
It was noted that this decision was made on September 5 at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada’s Committee on National Security and Defense during the consideration of a draft law on amendments to the statutes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Commenting on the situation, the Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Church’s Department for Relations with the Armed Forces and Other Military Formations, Archimandrite Luke (Vinarchuk) stressed the inadmissibility of any discrimination based on religious affiliation.
“Again we declare about the violations and restrictions of the rights of our faithful, about the constant baseless accusations against our confession. Some officials do not hide their negative attitudes to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and, using their official positions, say that after receiving the tomos, the limitations of the rights of our Church and faithful will become the norm of Ukrainian existence,” Fr. Luke said, outraged.
“It seems that some officials are waiting for the tomos to launch their full-scale repressions against our priests, while others, without waiting for the results, are already beginning to realize their aspirations,” with the letter to the rector of the St. Nicholas parish as an example.
And earlier, in August, on the feast of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord, believers and clergy of the Odessa Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were prevented from celebrating festal services in the Church of Equal-to-the-Apostles Saints Cyril and Methodius at the Odessa Military Academy while chaplains of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” were allowed to enter freely.
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