Kiev, December 12, 2022
Last week, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) imposed sanctions against one deacon and nine hierarchs.
The majority of the sanctioned hierarchs are from dioceses that have been received directly into the Russian Orthodox Church in the past few months, though the initial list also included His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, the abbot of the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra.
Yesterday, President Zelensky put the NSDC’s latest decision into force, which imposes sanctions upon another five hierarchs and two priests.
Sanctions include various limitations related to finances and traveling and are in effect for five years. The government documents do not indicate what the sanctioned persons are accused of.
According to the addendum, the newly sanctioned UOC representatives are:
Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary—the Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian Security Service searched his residence on Friday.
Metropolitan Meletiy of Chernivtsi and Bukovina—head of the UOC’s Department for External Church Relations. The Ukrainian Security Service searched his diocesan administration on November 25, and, according to the hierarch, planted false evidence against him, including an application form for a Russian passport.
Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol—one of the most outspoken hierarchs of the UOC. He is against the war but has mainly focused on calling the people to prayer and repentance. See below for his response to the sanctions.
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Lugansk and Alchevsk—the Lugansk Diocese suspended commemoration of Metropolitan Onuphry but decided to continue commemorating Patriarch Kirill after the UOC’s Council in late May. Met. Panteleimon was present at the Kremlin on September 30 for the celebration of the DPR, LPR, and Zaporozhye and Kherson Provinces joining Russia
Archbishop Paisy of Konstantinov—vicar of the Gorlovka Diocese in Donetsk, which is among those that decided to continue to commemorate Patriarch Kirill in the Divine services even after the UOC changed its statutes at the Council in May.
Archimandrite Ioann—abbot of St. Savva’s Monastery in Melitopol. He reportedly campaigned in favor of the referendum that led to the Zaporozhye Province joining Russia and was also present at the ceremony in the Kremlin on September 30.
Archimandrite Alexei—rector of Holy Dormition Cathedral in Kherson. He was also present at the Kremlin ceremony.
After the ceremony in the Kremlin, Mikhail Podolyak, advisor to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, commented in a radio interview that anyone at the ceremony should be legally prosecuted, and especially Archimandrite Alexei should receive a life sentence.
Met. Luke of Zaporozhye commented on the sanctions in his Telegram channel, saying the state’s decision was no surprise to him, because “political expediency actively dictates its conditions and requires such decisions.”
This decision “tramples on common sense, fundamental human rights, the Constitution of Ukraine, and elementary moral norms,” writes His Eminence.
Looking back with a clear conscience, I’m not afraid to say that all these years our diocese has served God and neighbors without dividing the citizens of the country into “right” and “wrong.” I am certain that we will continue to bear witness to the world about Christ, fulfilling His commandment of Love!
His diocese has collected millions of Ukrainian hryvnia to equip children’s hospitals, to feed those in need, to repair military hospitals, and to organize humanitarian supplies. It has also donated thousands of liters of blood. In March, Met. Luke accompanied a humanitarian convoy intended for the much-suffering Mariupol.
“I don’t really care about my fate, except for my answer before God. I’m a hundred times more worried and pray for those who rebelled against the Church, because they rebelled against God Himself, Who cannot be mocked,” the hierarch said.
And turning to his flock, Met. Luke calls upon all to offer penitential prayer supported by fasting.