Ukrainian Orthodox Church considers Donbas and Lugansk part of Ukraine, says DECR rep

Kiev, February 8, 2022

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As far as the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church is concerned, the parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk Provinces that are uncontrolled by Kiev are still Ukrainian.

This was stated by Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Church’s Department for External Church Relations, in an interview with the Fund for Peace and Development.

Asked how the Church considers these territories, officially designated “temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine” by Ukrainian law, Fr. Nikolai said they remain Ukrainian, and that the Church can play an important role in efforts for unity:

Our church considers these territories and the people who live there to be part of Ukraine. Our dioceses in the Donbas remain part of the UOC and are managed from Kiev [the same is true of Crimea—OC], while the state temporarily lost them, unfortunately. In my opinion, the presence of the UOC in the uncontrolled territories can be a factor that will contribute to the return and integration of the territories and our fellow citizens.

Despite early efforts to paint the conflict in the eastern territories as religious, this rhetoric didn’t last long, Fr. Nikolai says. The Church has a significant number of people on both sides of the contact line, and it refuses to divide people or make political assessments. The Church is working very hard on both sides of the contact line to unite and reconcile the opposing parties, Fr. Nikolai explains.

Fr. Nikolai’s statement is noteworthy, as Ukrainian nationalist-schismatic media and international religious outlets that support the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” routinely paint the Ukrainian Church as but a tool of the Kremlin, despite the fact that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has repeatedly come out against a change to Ukrainian borders.

In March 2014, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine (then the Locum Tenens of the primatial throne) appealed to both President Putin and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to do everything in their power to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine and “to prevent bloodshed and the fratricide of the peoples who emerged from the same Dnieper font.”

The full text of both letters is provided in our article, “Metropolitan Onuphry’s Pastoral Love for the Ukrainian People.”

Other UOC hierarchs have made similar statements.

For example, in a live broadcast on Radio Liberty on December 21, 2018, His Eminence Archbishop Clement (Vecherya), the Chairman of the Church’s Synodal Information and Education Department, said the Ukrainian Church “does not recognize the annexation of Crimea, condemns everything that is happening in Donbass, and has called on the head of the Russian state to stop this aggression. The UOC has repeatedly noted that it fully supports all the initiatives of the Ukrainian state regarding its determinations related to what is happening in eastern Ukraine.”

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Jesse Dominick2/10/2022 3:45 pm
David, let's assume for the sake of argument that the MP recognizes the annexation of Crimea. Why should this create a problem for the UOC? What it shows is that people with different opinions can peacefully coexist within the same Church. Just imagine if the schismatics were mature enough to realize that...
David2/9/2022 3:39 am
I ask about Crimea, because while the UOC-MP considers it part of their territory, the MP itself has been more muted on the subject. Their relative silence is odd, considering the stakes. If the MP itself recognizes Crimea's annexation, that creates a real problem for the UOC-MP.
Nikolai2/9/2022 2:06 am
Dear brother Vladimir, If you read Russian, please read the first 11 pages of the publication "Сакральные смыслы Новороссии". If you don't read Russian, it might help to have someone translate these pages for you. Hopefully, these 11 pages and publication as a whole, might help you to better understand the situation in Donbass.
David2/9/2022 1:58 am
And Crimea?
Vladimir M. Bogdanov2/8/2022 8:41 pm
It would be encouraging to see all of Patriarch Cyril's statements on the need for the Russian Federation to cease hostilities and withdraw from Crimea and the Donbass. I'm sure he's spoken quite strongly and publicly against these pointless, unnecessary, anti-Christ attacks by one Orthodox nation against a sister Orthodox nation.
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