Pochaev, Ternopil Province, Ukraine, December 20, 2022
On Thursday, December 15, the brotherhood of the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra published an appeal to President Vladimir Zelensky to end the persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and to veto any bills that would ban the Church.
In the letter, signed by His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of Pochaev, abbot of the holy monastery, the brotherhood reminds the head of state that the people of the UOC are true Ukrainians, that they love their homeland, and that continue to stand by the suffering Ukrainian people in this difficult time.
“Lenin’s decree, as we can see today, is unfortunately in effect. Just as the Church was separated from the state and persecuted after the revolution, so it is now,” the brothers lament.
Read the entire appeal:
Dear President of Ukraine Vladimir Alexandrovich!
We, the brothers of the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra, are extremely concerned about the draft laws that, as we understand, will be considered in the near future in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, concerning the future life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
We monks can’t imagine our life without God’s church, without Church singing, without our saving Orthodox faith, without our Church family. This is our life! Why should we deny it?
We must try to be objective in our assessments of the religious situation and in relation to Orthodox Ukrainians.
Order and harmony in society should be promoted. And the persecution of the Church is dangerous both for believers and for the state, which must respect the opinion of millions of citizens.
People don’t always have to be close friends and like-minded people, but in the matter of protecting the constitutional rights of Ukrainian citizens and public peace, we must be allies. And in this regard, we count on your understanding and support.
Our country is currently experiencing the most difficult and tragic moment in its history. Why increase it even more? What are we, Ukrainian monks, to blame for what’s happening?
People who don’t know the history of the Church, the canons, who have never been parishioners of the Church and haven’t lived a Church life and have nothing to do with the Church of Christ sow discord among Ukrainians and introduce politics into the Church.
According to the Constitution of Ukraine, the Church is separated from the state and everyone has the right to profess or not to profess any religion.
We, as citizens of Ukraine, demand that our rights to freedom of religion not be violated.
Our country is on the path of democracy, but what does democracy consist of?
Everyone talks about freedom of speech and conscience and that everyone is equal before the law, but unfortunately, for the “powerful of this world” today, this doesn’t apply.
Maybe make and adopt a law like in China, where the practice of any faith is prohibited!?
Lenin’s decree, as we can see today, is unfortunately in effect. Just as the Church was separated from the state and persecuted after the revolution, so it is now.
Our life and our future depends on those who protect and defend our state, and therefore it’s especially important to pray for the Ukrainian military.
Thousands of monks, many of whom have relatives and friends who are now on the front lines, are praying for our soldiers and the long-suffering Ukrainian people.
On the first day of the war, our primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, condemned the military aggression.
The accusation that we are dependent on Moscow is baseless and untrue!
Recently, many media outlets have been writing false information about our Church, which is the largest religious community in our country. It has always been and remains with the Ukrainian people and truly worries, prays, and wishes for peace.
Parishioners, monasteries, and dioceses of the UOC offer a lot of help to our soldiers who are on the front lines, treat the wounded, and take care of displaced people, providing them with housing, clothing, free food, and other necessary things, etc.
A ban and liquidation of the UOC would have irreparable consequences and would sow discord among the population, including among military personnel. You and the head of your office have repeatedly publicly pointed out the inappropriateness of resolving conflicts on a religious basis under martial law, and what has changed since then?
According to the tomos (gramota of Patriarch Alexei II), our Church has been independent since 1990, and this is also evidenced by the statutes of our Church.
We, the monks of the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra, consciously stand in defense of our Canonical UOC, which was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, not by politicians.
We were baptized in this Church and will continue to remain in it, and we demand an end to the arbitrariness and lawlessness that’s being committed against our Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
We ask you, as the guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine, not to support these discriminatory laws and to veto them.
God is with us!