Jerusalem hierarch: We condemn the systematic persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Jerusalem, December 13, 2023

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The history of the Church is full of fierce persecution, but it always wins in the end, “because the Lord Jesus Christ protects it and protects it from all evil,” His Eminence Archbishop Theodosios of Sebaste (Jerusalem Patriarchate) said recently, condemning the ongoing persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Archbishop has spoken out in defense of the UOC many times over the years, and the Jerusalem Patriarchate as a whole has refused to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” created by Patriarchate Bartholomew and the U.S. and Ukrainian governments.

The Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem reports that His Eminence spoke about the tragic situations in the Holy Land and Ukraine during a meeting with a group of people from around the world at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on December 2:

We pray for peace in the Holy Land and for the war in the Gaza Strip to end. This is a war for which innocent civilians and children are paying the price. But speaking about the sufferings of our people in the Holy Land and what is happening here, we also remember what is happening in Ukraine, where the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is being persecuted and persecuted by the Kiev regime supported by the West. The persecution incited by the West against the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is unacceptable and cannot be justified, as it is a violation of human rights and an attack on the ancient Church that has existed in Ukraine since Christianity came to these lands. The political authorities have no right to interfere in Church affairs and impose an agenda that the Church cannot accept.

We express our solidarity with His Eminence Metropolitan Onuphry and all the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church who are being severely persecuted while the Western world, which praises human rights, seeing and knowing this, does not take any action. The Western political authorities and their representatives in Ukraine seek to create an alternative church structure to the legitimate Church, but we do not recognize the canonicity of the structure imposed by the political leadership of Ukraine as an alternative to the legitimate Church headed by Metropolitan Onuphry.

We pray for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in these difficult times, when several bishops are imprisoned and tormented, when illegal seizures of churches are committed—all this we categorically condemn.

We believe that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will defeat its enemies. This is not the first time that the Church has been persecuted: Its history is full of cruel persecution, but in the end it wins, because the Lord Jesus Christ protects it and keeps it from all evil, from enemies visible and invisible.

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