Zaporozhye, Ukraine, February 10, 2023
Against the background of the continuing war in Ukraine and the increasing state persecution against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, one Ukrainian hierarch has reached out to a brother hierarch in the Bulgarian Church for support.
His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye, one of the most authoritative and outspoken hierarchs of the Ukrainian Church, sent a letter to His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech, one of most authoritative and outspoken hierarchs of the Bulgarian Church, known for his unwavering support of the canonical Ukrainian Church against the invasion of the schismatics.
His letter was published on the site of the Lovech Diocese earlier this week.
Met. Luke begins:
Knowing your firm position in keeping the canons of the Church and your intransigence to the influence of non-Church forces on the life of the Church, allow me to draw your attention to inform you about the events that are currently happening around our Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The UOC is today facing its most terrible trial since the fall of the Soviet Union, Met. Luke writes, given “the state’s attempts to liquidate it and its violent takeover by the organization called ‘OCU,’ headed by Epiphany Dumenko.”
The anti-Church campaign launched in Ukraine surpasses even that of the godless communist government, Met. Luke emphasizes.
250 churches were violently seized in 2022, and the seizure of 100 more is being prepared, Met. Luke informs Met. Gabriel, and several draft laws have been registered in the Parliament calling for a complete ban or the significant limitation of the rights of the UOC. Local bans have already been implemented throughout the country, he notes.
Moreover, the Constitutional Court recently approved the Poroshenko-era law to forcibly rename the Church into “The Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine,” which would contribute to the forcible seizure of Church property.
The legal basis is being prepared to entirely take the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras aways from the Church, and the schismatics have already served in the Kiev holy site, Met. Luke laments.
The hierarchy of the UOC is also under attack, with 12 bishops being stripped of their citizenship, which will likely become the basis for their deportation. Personal sanctions have also been placed upon a number of bishops and clerics, and similar measures are planned for dozens more, Met. Luke writes.
He also notes that the members of the “expert group” that was appointed to examine the canonical status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “have repeatedly stated their extremely hostile attitude towards the UOC.”
Recall that the group chose to examine Russian Church documents rather than Ukrainian Church documents, and therefore declared that the UOC is still part of the Moscow Patriarchate, despite the separation voted on by the UOC in May.
Participants in these anti-Church actions openly proclaim that they hope to fully ban the Church by Pascha this year, Met. Luke states.
“In light of the above, the support of the Local Orthodox Churches is extremely important for the UOC. Their united voice can be a valuable tool in resisting the destruction of our Mother Church,” the Ukrainian hierarch implores.
What is happening in Ukraine is not the fight for one Orthodox structure, Met. Luke warns, but in fact, the fight for the total obliteration of canonical Orthodoxy in favor of a new union with the Uniates, which the heads of the Uniate and schismatic organizations have already spoken about many times.
“In this way, the first stage of the plan for the Catholicization of Ukraine will be completed and the second initiated—the integration of Dumenko’s schismatic structure into the system of the Uniate organization,” the Metropolitan warns.
In conclusion, Met. Luke implores Met. Gabriel:
In view of what has been said, I dare to ask for your prayerful support and the raising of your voice in defense of canonical Orthodoxy in Ukraine. I would also be grateful for your informing your primate, the members of the Synod, and the fellow ministers of your Church about the processes taking place in the religious sphere of Ukraine.
With a feeling of unchanging spiritual respect, I fervently entreat the Lord and His Most Pure Mother to send you His holy blessing from above and the Queen of Heaven and earth to keep you under Her gracious protection.