Zhytomyr, Ukraine, December 7, 2018
His Eminence Metropolitan Nikodim of Zhytomyr and Novograd-Volyn called for peace and mutual respect in a briefing yesterday for officials, journalists, and all Ukrainians in general, against the background of the government searches of churches and priest’s homes that were carried out in the diocese lately.
The police officers and Ukrainian Security Service officers who conducted the searches found nothing that could be incriminating in terms of inciting religious enmity and hatred, Met. Nikodim said, as reports the official site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The fact of the searches throughout the Zhytomyr and Ovruch Dioceses was confirmed by the Zhytomyr Province National Police and the Ukrainian Security Service, reports the Ukrainian portal zhitomir.info. They were carried out in regard to criminal proceedings under Article 161 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (violation of the equality of citizens depending on their race, nationality or religion).
Various priests spoke of how the officers searched their homes and churches all day, looking through all of their personal items to find anything incriminating, but left empty-handed. In some cases, they even searched diocesan administration buildings, which the written order they carried with them did not allow for.
It later became known that the searches were conducted as part of a criminal case against His Eminence Metropolitan Vissarion of Ovruch and Korosten and his brother, who are accused of producing and distributing material that incites religious enmity and hatred, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
A representative for the Zhytomyr Police Department stated that the case against Met. Vissarion goes back to January of this year and is not connected to recent events. In January, Met. Vissarion received a repentant priest of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” back into the Church.
Meanwhile, in his statement, Met. Nikodim noted that it is not the canonical Church that is causing religious enmity in Ukraine today, adding that “it is unpleasant, incomprehensible, and even painful for the faithful.”
At the same time, he appeals to the faithful to remain calm and understand that the officers were simply carrying out their orders.
He also called the faithful to prayer, courage, tolerance, love, and to trust in God.
“This faith does not bring enmity; it brings only peace. Whoever goes to a church of God sometime will hear there only prayers for Ukraine,” Met. Nikodim added. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently lied to the media, claiming the canonical Ukrainian Church prays in its services for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian army.
Despite the church currently being built in Ukraine, the Lord has already built His Church, Met. Nikodim says, and the faithful of the Ukrainian Church will remain faithful to this Church and its Holy Synod and primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
“The more the Church is persecuted, the stronger it becomes, it is purified—there have been so many examples from history. We will not repeat this history, we will not destroy churches, we will not destroy faith in the hearts of our faithful. With the coming Nativity of Christ, let us meet Him in peace and harmony,” Vladyka wished.
The Zhytomyr Diocese is among those that have expressed their full support for the canonical status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
A similar search was conducted at the residence of His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, the abbot of the Kiev Caves Lavra, in late November.
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