Kiev, March 28, 2022
Two separate bills aimed at the dissolution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were submitted to and registered by the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, over the past week.
Similar bills have been submitted to the Rada for years now, though they have so far proved unsuccessful.
Since the fratricidal war began last month, different reactions to the canonical Ukrainian Church, an autonomous body within the Moscow Patriarchate, have been seen. Some, including certain government officials and bodies, have called for all Ukrainians to unite, decrying the attacks and fake accusations against the Church, while others have only ramped up the attacks, despite the Church’s strong stance against the war.
The number of violent church seizures has markedly increased since last month, including 6 churches in the Vinnitsa Diocese alone.
And on March 22, Bill No. 7204, “On the Prohibition of the Moscow Patriarchate on the territory of Ukraine” was submitted, as published on the official Rada website.
The bill was authored by Oksana Savchuk, a deputy of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) Party from the western Ivano-Frankivsk Province.
Another Svoboda representative Oleg Veres commented on the bill on his Facebook page, noting that the purpose is to completely ban the Moscow Patriarchate and all organizations associated with it. He also calls to nationalize all UOC property, and to give all parishes, monasteries, and educational institutions two weeks to change their jurisdictional affiliation.
“Svoboda has repeatedly proposed such bills since 2005. They were stubbornly ignored. I hope that now, given the situation, the bill will be adopted. This is a matter of our national security,” Veres added.
Additionally, Bill No. 7213 on amendments to the law “On the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” was registered on Saturday, March 26.
The bill, submitted by deputies from Zelensky’s Servant of the People Party and the Voice Party, aims to ban religious organizations that are part of a religious organization centered in Russia, which has been recognized by law as carrying out military aggression against Ukraine.
The text of the bill is available on the Rada site.
Other bills attacking the Ukrainian Orthodox Church based on its affiliation with the Moscow Patriarchate have thus far failed because there is no legal connection between the two bodies. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is entirely administered in Kiev.