Zaporozhye, Zaporozhye Province, Ukraine, August 11, 2023
The fiery and outspoken hierarch of Zaporozhye is the latest target in the state persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye was summoned for interrogation yesterday, after which he revealed that criminal proceedings have been opened against him.
The news comes just days after courts sentenced His Eminence Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchin to five years in prison with the confiscation of his property.
Based on a linguistic examination of his posts on Telegram, the state is charging him with inciting religious enmity, which is the same accusation it brings against any hierarch or cleric in its sights. Similar cases against His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod, the abbot of the Kiev Caves Lavra, and His Eminence Metropolitan Theodosy of Cherkasy are also being pursued.
“They showed me the findings of a philological expert,” Met. Luke explains in a video published after the interrogation. “Maybe this person understand philology, but he absolutely does not understand theology, the canons of the Church, ecclesiology, the life of the Church.”
“For example, they’re accusing me of using the phrase, ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,’” His Eminence said, referring to Mt. 12:31-32.
Met. Luke explains that he was also asked about his attitude towards the tomos granted to the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and towards “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko personally.
The UOC hierarch explained that only four out of 16 Local Orthodox Churches have recognized the OCU and Dumenko, which shows that he himself is on the side of the fullness of the Church.
And asked about the purpose of his Telegram channel, Met. Luke explained:
The channel was created with only one purpose: to protect my Mother Church, to convey to each of you the word of truth, so that the sin that causes the eternal murder of the soul does not touch your heart. This is my duty. I am obliged to do it as a pastor of the Church. This is precisely what I’m called to by the Apostle Paul, the whole fullness of the Church, the saints of the Church. I’m obligated to do this. It’s my duty.
He also stressed that he speaks Orthodox truths, but without any offensive or hateful words:
I don’t insult anyone. Show me at least one of my insulting words—unlike those words that come flying at me, at my Mother Church… I condemn sin, but I don’t condemn the man. Man, whatever he may be, is the image of God, but this image can be darkened by sin. And I have to talk about it, I have no right to be silent. Christ calls everyone to love, and I call for love, not hatred. I call all to one thing, my dear ones, to the salvation of our precious immortal souls.
In conclusion, he calls on his flock to remain faithful to the Church.