Cherkasy, Cherkasy Province, Ukraine, August 22, 2023
A court in Cherkasy, Ukraine, began hearing the case against His Eminence Metropolitan Theodosy of Cherkasy of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church yesterday.
Like other hierarchs, he is being falsely accused of inciting religious enmity and justifying Russian aggression. The evidence included in the prosecutor’s indictment in May was that in 2020, the hierarch ordered the creation of a new diocesan website which used a template from the Russian Orthodox Church and had links to Orthodox resources in Russia such as patriarchia.ru (the official ROC site), pravmir.ru, and pravoslavie.ru.
Met. Theodosy made an introductory speech in which he explained that the case is not even about him personally, but rather is just another example of the persecution of the UOC. The Information-Education Department reports his words:
It should be said right away that although the charges have been formulated against an individual, this entire criminal case has been artificially fabricated against me because I am a Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the head of the Cherkasy Eparchy. This criminal proceeding is part of the ongoing persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in our country, and the Cherkasy Eparchy in particular. And as an individual, as a citizen of Ukraine, they are not interested in me personally. In my person, the persecutors are persecuting the Ukrainian Church, and I am now representing The Ukrainian Church in this Court. It is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, that is being unjustly persecuted and discredited today.
Met. Theodosy completely denied all charges brought against him, “as they have been completely artificially fabricated and falsified… The prosecution has no facts, no evidence.”
The Church is being openly persecuted today and openly discriminated against in the media, the Metropolitan emphasized, noting that Fr. Evgeny Burkatsky, who was present at the trial, was expelled together with his parishioners from his church just three weeks ago. The church had been built by the Cherkasy Diocese at its own expense. Fr. Evgeny and his wife and seven children were also kicked out of the parish house by schismatics were also present at the trial “pretending to be ‘victims.’”
The pretend victims were wearing camouflage. Met. Theodosy noted that most of the “victims” and “witnesses” are, in fact, “clerics” of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” who are unwilling to appear in cassocks and identify themselves as “clerics.”
“The clergy of the OCU don’t want this ‘Judas’ sin’ of theirs to be perceived as ‘Judas’ sin’ by our society and the entire Orthodox world, which is closely following the process… You really don’t want the baptized world to see that a canonical Orthodox metropolitan was dragged into court by the ‘clergy’ of the OCU.”
Those bringing charges against him, in fact, “want to obstruct and publicly condemn [his] very position as a hierarch of the Ukrainian Church,” Met. Theodosy said, because he rejects the schismatics and defends the canonical position of the Church.
The initiators of this criminal proceeding want me, as an Orthodox hierarch and as a citizen of Ukraine, to simply shut up and say nothing more. They want other faithful of the Church to see this, get scared, and shut up as well. Ideally, the whole Church should remain silent. They want to condemn not only our position, and our statements, but also our thoughts.
And he concluded:
Being aware of my responsibility to the diverse flock of our Church, which also suffers from constant attacks against it, I as a hierarch of the Church, reserve the fundamental right not to express my personal point of view on any social issues, ideological issues, and even more so on political issues. If the discussion concerns the position of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on certain socially significant issues, we shall cite only official documents of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as answers.