Court resumes case on forcibly renaming the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Kiev, May 11, 2023

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The case on the forcible renaming of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been resumed.

According to the Ukrainian outlet Glavkom, with reference to the register of the Kiev District Administrative Court, the Kiev Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s claim against the Ministry of Culture, which ordered the renaming in 2019, has been registered with the court.

Although it has been legally registered as the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” for 30 years, there have been attempts at least since 2018 under President Poroshenko to forcibly rename the UOC as the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine,” although these attempts have been repeatedly blocked by Ukrainian courts.

The matter was halted by the Ukrainian Supreme Court in December 2019, but in late December, the Constitutional Court ruled that the bill calling for the forced renaming of churches or religious organizations associated with organizations in Russia is in line with the state constitution.

The presiding judge in the new round of the case decided that the trial will take place according to the rules of simplified proceedings, without notifying the parties and based on the materials available in the case.

Ukrainian authorities hope to forcibly rename the UOC as the “Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine” in order to then ban the Church on the national level. In January, a state “expert group” declared that, despite the decisions of the UOC Council’s in May 2022, it remains part of the Moscow Patriarchate. This finding was based on documents of the Moscow Patriarchat itself, which has stated that it is not possible to grant autocephaly to a daughter Church without a resolution to that effect at a Synod meeting. For obvious reasons, due to the current political situation in Ukraine, it is not possible for UOC representatives to attend a Synod meeting of the Moscow Patriarchate.

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