Kiev, May 13, 2022
The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church met for the first time since the start of the fratricidal war in late February at the Kiev Caves Lavra yesterday, under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
As OrthoChristian reported yesterday, the Synod has initiated an eventual meeting of the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and faithful of the UOC to discuss wartime issues of Church life.
The Synod also made a number of other important decisions, including establishing a new convent in the Simferopol Diocese, and electing three new vicar bishops.
Concerning the persecution against the Church, the Synod states, with an appeal to President Vladimir Zelensky:
We cannot but express concern that, despite the wise and balanced appeals of the President of Ukraine and other statesmen, there are frequent cases of incitement of hostility and discord on religious grounds in some regions. Instead of the unity of the people in the pursuit of victory and the restoration of peaceful life, an internal, religious front is flaring up in the country. Thus, a group of People’s Deputies of Ukraine submitted bills to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to ban the activities of our Church, based on far-fetched and deliberately false accusations. In addition, in various provinces of Ukraine, there are cases of local self-governing bodies making illegal decisions to ban or restrict the activities of local religious communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. With the tacit consent or with the active intervention of local authorities, the seizures of churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has intensified.
We are sad to state that all these facts are the result of the erroneous religious policy of the presidency of P.A. Poroshenko and the destructive ideology of the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine. We are convinced that it was precisely such activities of the previous government and the OCU that became one of the reasons for the military invasion of Ukraine. We believe that the criminal actions directed against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have signs of subversive and sabotage activities and are the result of the inaction of the State Service of Ukraine on Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience, designed to regulate interreligious relations in Ukraine. We consider attempts to ban the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church unacceptable. Any decisions to ban our Church and restrict the rights of its believers are criminal and in violation of the Ukrainian constitution. Such actions can only be qualified as an act of national suicide, because they are directed against millions of citizens of Ukraine who belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and who today at different levels—on the front and in the rear—are defending our homeland.
In this regard, we appeal to the President of Ukraine, Vladimir Alexandrovich Zelensky, as the guarantor of compliance with the constitution of Ukraine, with a request to intervene in this difficult situation, stop religious hostility in Ukrainian society, and take the necessary measures against lawless actions against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Synod also decided to appeal to Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova with a request to investigate the illegal actions of government representatives, and to the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the violation of the constitutional rights and freedoms of the faithful of the UOC.
The UOC Legal Department issued a statement last week, condemning the illegal bans on the Church being enacted in some cities and provinces.