Kiev, January 6, 2023
In a letter to Ukrainian Minister of Culture Alexander Tkachenko published today, His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl, abbot of the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra, explains that there is no legal basis for keeping the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from using the churches of the Upper Lavra and calls upon the Minister to make decisions in accordance with the law.
Met. Pavel notes that the letter he received from the administration of the state-run Kiev Caves Lavra Museum-Reserve explains that the UOC can no longer use the Holy Dormition Cathedral and the Trapeza Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius in the Upper Lavra based on the recommendation of the Ministry of Culture.
Tkachenko himself has bolstered this recommendation with reference to President Zelensky’s decree from last month, though as Met. Pavel emphasizes, the decree “contains no instructions about the termination of the provision of Lavra churches to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for use or the suspension of worship services.”
Such manipulation and misleading of the public is discriminatory and violates the constitutional rights of the faithful of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Eminence explains.
Further, the UOC, in fact, has valid lease agreements with the Lavra Museum for the hourly use of the churches of the Upper Lavra, Met. Pavel affirms, citing the May 27th resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers that extends all lease agreements of state and municipal property throughout the period of marital law and for four months after the end of martial law.
Thus, the fact that the churches are closed to the UOC for worship services is in violation of the norms of current Ukrainian legislation.
The Lavra abbot concludes:
Taking into account the above, we ask you to take urgent measures on the eve of the Christmas holidays to prevent violations of the rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and to allow the Holy Dormition-Kiev Caves Lavra (monastery) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to continue to celebrate Divine services in the Trapeza Church and the Holy Dormition Cathedral.
Recall that the Orthodox Church held its last service in the Upper Lavra for the time being. It was announced this week that the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” will hold Nativity “services” in the Holy Dormition Cathedral.