Kiev, January 30, 2023
His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the beloved primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, recently sent an appeal to the United Nations about his much-suffering Church.
“Since February 2022, Ukraine has been living in the conditions of a full-scale war. In this terrible hour of military disaster and extremely grave trials, we would like to ask you to give attention to the gross violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion in Ukraine, consisting in the violation of the rights of and discrimination against the Orthodox Christians of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC),” His Beatitude writes in his appeal addressed to the UN’s Secretary General António Guterres, Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed, and Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu, reports the Information-Education Department of the UOC.
The UOC primate emphasizes the independent status of the UOC and the fact that it’s the largest denomination in Ukraine, which has condemned the war from the very first days and has provided assistance to all those suffering from the war. He also notes that the UOC has always defended the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
Met. Onuphry took the opportunity to inform the UN leadership about the various anti-Church bills that threaten to ban the UOC, the personal sanctions against UOC hierarchs and clerics, and the illegal activities of local governing bodies.
He also drew attention to the various international laws on the freedom of religion, noting that, “The link between peace and human rights is inextricable. Human rights and the rule of law are a matter of universal security—as important as military potential or economic stability.”
Earlier this month, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, the head of the Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations, also addressed the UN Security Council about the Church persecution in Ukraine, although the UOC issued a statement emphasizing that it neither asked nor authorized the ROC to speak on its behalf.
In this regard, Met. Onuphry noted in his appeal that “the issue of the situation around the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was discussed at a recent meeting of the UN Security Council, but without the UOC itself.”
“Based on the complexity of the situation, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is ready to send its representative and convey important information to the international community firsthand,” Met. Onuphry affirmed.
His Beatitude concludes his appeal:
We hope that our voice will be heard and the citizens of Ukraine who are faithful to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) will receive the necessary support and protection at the international level. We hope for the timely adoption of all necessary measures aimed at countering incitement to religious hostility and the discrimination of believing Ukrainian citizens and religious organizations of the UOC, and the development of recommendations to be sent to the government of Ukraine regarding the protection of religious freedoms.
Following the presentation of the ROC’s Met. Anthony to the UN Security Council, the UN issued a statement expressing its concern about religious freedom in Ukraine, as it has done several times over the years.