Baryshevka, Ukraine, February 20, 2019
Despite the inflated numbers being broadcasted in Ukrainian media, as of today, only 36 parishes have voluntarily left the canonical Church to join with the schismatics.
While the state and the schismatics speak of more than 300 parishes having moved already, in fact, there have only been 23 communities with their priest and 13 without a priest that have voluntarily gone into schism, His Grace Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka explained on Ukrainian TV today, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
Bp. Viktor is the head of the canonical Ukrainian Church’s representation to European international organizations. He recently released a video message in which he addresses the UN, the EU, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe concerning the widespread violations of human rights in Ukraine that the faithful of the canonical Church are facing, and of the real threat of an escalation in religious conflicts.
He also noted that such messages and reports are nothing new, but that the Ukrainian Church has been providing hard evidence of the violation of its rights to such organizations since 2015.
He also recalled that the recently-passed bill No. 4128 allows for the strange situation in which the fate of a church is decided by the territorial community rather than strictly the parish community. Anyone can show up on the day of a vote and say the church should join the schismatics, which has happened in several instances—some successful, others not.
He also noted that strangers are being bused in for such votes, as has happened already in the Rivne, Ternopil, Khmelnitsky, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Lvov Provinces, which does not fit within the framework of the law adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on January 17. Church authorities are receiving complaints every day from their parishes throughout the country about such activities.
In addition to the 36 parish communities that have voluntarily joined the schismatics, Bp. Viktor explained that another 23 parishes have been forcibly seized, including cases where the local territorial community gathered at night without any representatives of the canonical parish community and voted to move into schism, after which they cut the locks to the church and gave the building to schismatics.
There are another 29 cases where the territorial community voted to join the schismatics, while the parish community with its priest voted to remain with the canonical Church.
Thus, in all 88 parishes have gone into schism, the majority of them unwillingly.
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