Zaporozhye, Zaporozhye Province, Ukraine, July 14, 2023
Photo: hramzp.ua On July 12, the Zaporozhye City Council held an extraordinary session on the issue of relations with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In the end, despite an appeal from the clergy and parishioners of the UOC, the council resolved to break all its agreements with the Church.
After months of failed attempts to force the diocese and its parishes into the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” 42 out of 43 deputies present voted to reject the Church, reports Forpost.
Just before the matter was put to the vote, His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye issued an appeal to the clergy and parishioners of his diocese, calling on them to remain faithful and do everything possible to defend their Church.
His Eminence notes that even international organizations such as the UN have acknowledged the city and regional authorities have gone beyond their legitimate powers in banning the UOC, and that the government is discriminating against the Church.
Ukraine styles itself as democratic, so “how can the authorities in such a country go against the law and their own voters?” the hierarch asks.
And he encourages his flock: “Do not be afraid and, praying to the Champion Leader, stand up for your Mother Church in all legal ways!”
The faithful must not be afraid to tell the world about what is happening, and to demand that the authorities answer the question: “Do they renounce the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation that were performed on them in our Mother Church?”
The deputies of the Zaporozhye City Council “clearly show their disregard for the UN statement,” resorting instead to “lies, meanness, cynicism, disregard for us—their voters, and hypocrisy.”
Given the vote to be held that day, on the feasts of Sts. Peter and Paul, Met. Luke blessed for a special prayer to be read at Liturgy, naming every deputy of the council and asking God to enlighten them:
We must ask the King of Heaven to grant His enlightenment to the deputies of the city council about the consequences of making such a decision, which will negatively affect not only the reputation of both our city and Ukraine at the international level, but, worst of all, on their souls, the souls of their relatives and friends. After all, we know that God cannot be mocked. And as the experience of other regions shows, officials who advocated the ban of the UOC are detained for corruption.
Do not be afraid to defend your faith, for which I bless you all and say in the words of the Apostle Paul: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world (Rom. 1:8)!