Kiev, February 4, 2020
Parish “transitions” from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church to the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” have almost completely stopped, due, not to the people’s desire to remain in the Church of Christ, but pressure and legal tactics from the Moscow Patriarchate, schismatic head “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko believes.
At a press conference on the occasion of the 1st anniversary of his enthronement as primate of the politically-created church, Dumenko laments that almost every parish community that has “transferred” to his OCU has a corresponding legal claim from the canonical Ukrainian Church, reports the Ukrainian outlet Ukrinform.
The influx of parishes has practically stopped “due to some extent to some political aspects; now, unfortunately, some regional administrations are blocking re-registration, and the Moscow Patriarchate is trying in every way to suspend this process through lawsuits,” he lamented.
“In other words, almost every community that joined our Church now has a corresponding claim from the Russian Orthodox Church,” he explained.
He also claimed that the UOC “scares people, creates artificial conflicts, and makes a picture to further circulate in not only in Ukraine, but abroad.” As he has many times before, he again repeated the claim that the communities that joined the OCU did so in accordance with the constitution and Ukrainian legislation.
However, it is well known both in Ukraine and abroad that parishes have been forcibly, sometimes violently, seized from the canonical Church, as proven by numerous videos, and have been illegally re-registered without the communities’ consent.
The fact of persecution against the canonical Church is also acknowledged by the UN. Under Poroshenko, the Ukrainian state ignored the UN’s request for information on the violations of the rights of the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Epiphany also explained that he insists upon calling the UOC the “Russian Orthodox Church,” “Because the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate must by law re-register as the Russian Orthodox Church. This is not surprising. If you want to have Moscow as your religious center, why don't you call things by their proper names? Please call yourself the Russian Orthodox Church and do not mislead Orthodox Ukrainians!”
In late 2018, the Ukrainian Parliament passed a law attempting to force the canonical Ukrainian Church to rename itself as the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine.” The canonical Church saw this as a clear step towards seizing Church properties and took the matter to court, and Dumenko is ignoring the fact that the Ukrainian Supreme Court halted the forced renaming in late December.
According to its legally registered documents, the Ukrainian Church is centered and administered in Kiev, thus there is no justification to legally force it to be called the “Russian Orthodox Church.”