Kiev, February 1, 2021
Authorities throughout Ukraine are attempting to illegally gather information about parishes of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“Priests call from the regions and report that provincial administrations are collecting information about religious communities of the UOC (documents about the church, land plots, number of priests, whether the charter has changed, etc.)!” Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, the head of the UOC’s Legal Department, reports on Facebook.
Fr. Alexander emphasizes that such information can only be legally gathered by a written request from state authorities to the diocese or religious community.
Reports of the illegal data collection come just after “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” announced that they, following the lead of their head Patriarch Bartholomew, only temporarily tolerate the existence of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Dumenko also predicted a second wave of “transitions” of canonical parishes to the schismatic structure, which, in fact, means illegal seizures.
The canonical Church has several times warned about the strong possibility of such increasing pressure and even repression as a preparation for Pat. Bartholomew’s upcoming summer visit.
Further information was reported during a meeting of the diocesan council of the Zaporozhye Diocese on Friday, January 29. Archpriest Gennady Elin, the head of the diocesan chancellery wrote about the meeting on his Facebook page.
As he explained, local officials are attempting to gather information by instruction of representatives of provincial state administrations, but they cannot explain why.
The head of the diocesan legal department, Hieromonk Markian (Mashyanov), also emphasized, as did Fr. Alexander, that any such information request must come through official channels.
In this regard, His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye did not bless his clergy to answer any of the questions until they are asked in accordance with the established legal procedure.
Fr. Gennady also published the list of questions being asked of priests:
How many clerics?
How many of them are foreigners?
Does the church publish any periodicals?
Do they belong to the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine?”
How many religious buildings?
If the buildings are owned: were they returned, built, or monuments of architecture?
If the buildings are in use: were they transferred or monuments of architecture?
Number of rooms adapted for prayer: owned, rented, or otherwise?
Have foreigners been invited to the services: citizenship, confession, purpose of entry, and number?
Has the charter of the religious community been changed?