Pochaev, November 26, 2018
The decision of the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice to cancel the state registration of several buildings, including two cathedrals, to the Holy Dormition Pochaev Lavra does not deprive the Lavra of the right to use them, argues the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Legal Department Archpriest Alexander Bakhov.
The Ministry of Justice canceled the registration of the buildings on Friday—something the nationalist schismatics in Ukraine have been trying to do for years. The brethren of the Lavra released a statement in which they compared the current Ukrainian government to soviet persecutors of the Church of last century.
The Ministry’s decision comes just three weeks after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared that the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church has no business in Ukraine and its representatives should get out of the country.
“The Pochaev Lavra will continue to be in the lawful and valid use of the brothers of the men’s monastery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” Fr. Alexander writes on his Facebook page on Saturday.
He explains that the agreement from 2003 on the use of several buildings (churches, a bell tower, cells, the bishop/abbot’s residence, and the holy gates) by the Pochaev Lavra is “valid and not canceled.”
Fr. Alexander specifically draws attention to the fact that the Ministry of Justice’s recent decision to cancel the state registration does not cancel the contract on the buildings’ usage from 2003.
“At the same time, the right of usage acquired before 2013 is not subject to mandatory state registration. Therefore, the abolition of this state registration does not deprive the men’s monastery of the UOC of the right to use the facilities of the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra,” the Church’s legal representative said.
He also stressed that the Ministry’s decision can be overturned in court.
In conclusion, he also asked all interested persons not to incite religious enmity and to refrain from illegal actions against the faithful and brethren of the Pochaev Lavra.
Despite Fr. Alexander’s positive take on the Ministry’s actions, they nevertheless indicate a new era of pressure and persecution against the Church.
“Incoming information testifies to the preparation of large-scale pressure on the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, its monasteries, and its churches,” Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the Deputy Head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion on Saturday.
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