Kiev, June 15, 2021
The newly-created Laity NGO and thousands of parishioners of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church gathered outside Ukrainian Parliament today to present two draft laws aimed at protecting the rights of the faithful of the UOC.
OrthoChristian reported last week on the founding Laity, which aims to defend the rights of the persecuted Orthodox Church and to uphold its moral teachings. The organization called on all interested Orthodox Christians to join the prayer vigil outside the Verkhovna Rada.
The bills presented by Laity are backed by the signatures of more than a million Ukrainian Orthodox laymen, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
This is the first time in the history of the Ukrainian state that it is the faithful who will submit draft laws to Parliament, His Grace Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka emphasized in a message on his Telegram channel.
In addition to more than 20,000 faithful from throughout Ukraine, several hierarchs and clerics also joined in the prayer vigil. People’s Deputy Vadim Novinsky, a deacon and great defender of Orthodoxy in Ukraine, received the bills that aim to correct the anti-Orthodox laws passed under Poroshenko and promised to pass them on to Parliament.
As Laity founder Vasily Makarovsky explained, combating the persecutorial laws is the most pressing issue facing the UOC right now, as they have allowed several hundred churches to be seized by force and illegally reregistered since the creation of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” in 2018. Laity’s bills are designed to repeal the Poroshenko laws, including the attempted forced renaming of the UOC.
Unfortunately, nationalist schismatics also appeared at Parliament today, shouting nationalist slogans such as, “Glory to the nation, death to our enemies,” to which the Orthodox faithful responded: “Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!”
The faithful also joyfully sang the Paschal troparion:
At 11:47 this morning, His Eminence Archbishop Nikolai of Vasilovo announced that the draft laws had been received and expressed hope that the authorities would take them into consideration. They were also delivered to the Office of the President.
As His Eminence explained, in essence, the faithful are merely demanding to be treated in accordance with the Ukrainian constitution.
“Since Ukraine received the Tomos, nearly 500 churches have been forcibly seized from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the Archbishop said. “500 persecuted parishes, hundreds of thousands of crippled human destinies. Not paying attention to this isn’t just lawlessness: it’s cynicism, it’s disdain for your people. How did the largest religious community in Ukraine become an enemy in its own country? Why are we put in opposition to the state? Are we not citizens of Ukraine?”