Moscow, December 27, 2018
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is concerned about what awaits the clergy, faithful, and churches of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church following the passing of bill No. 5309 that requires the Church to change its name from “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” to the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.”
The bill was passed by the Rada on December 20, signed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on December 22, and came into force yesterday, December 26.
“After the decision of the Ukrainian Parliament with demands to change the name of the UOC, these changes will likely be followed by repressions, of course,” Pat. Kirill said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Supreme Church Council.
“And it is quite obvious that there is an ultimatum: If the Church does not change its name, its registration will be removed, but if the Church changes its name, then the strongest pressure begins, primarily on the people, on the public. Undoubtedly, the forceful seizure of churches will begin,” the Russian primate added.
Further in his speech, Pat. Kirill said: “As you know, the law on changing the name of the Church has been adopted. This law is absolutely insane from the point of view of modern law and the modern principles of relations between the state and religious organizations. In all Western countries, in secular countries, whose examples Ukraine takes, the name of a religious organization doesn’t concern the state—this is a matter for the religious organization itself.”
Russia is officially considered an “aggressor” country in Ukraine and is despised by Ukrainian nationalist-schismatics. Pat. Kirill is warning that if churches be forced to call themselves parishes of the “Russian Orthodox Church,” they will become yet clearer targets.
Pat. Kirill also noted that Ukrainians are “strong in faith, an emotional people, and, of course, everything that happens around the churches has the risk of turning into bloody conflicts.” He thus called for the strengthening of prayers for the “preservation of peace in the fraternal Ukrainian land” and the preservation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
And pinpointing the cause of the escalating persecution against the Ukrainian Church, Pat. Kirill lamented: “Everyone well knows that the trigger for the beginning of the persecution of Ukrainian Orthodoxy was the unprecedented, going beyond the bounds of any canonical order and therefore unlawful decision of Constantinople to invade the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the territory of our Church.”
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