Washington, D.C., February 9, 2024
It was U.S. policy, beginning under President Trump, to destroy the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, says the Church’s lawyer.
Robert Amsterdam of the D.C.-based AMSTERDAM & PARTNERS LLP, shocked by the Ukrainian state’s attempts to ban and destroy the Church, is providing the Church with pro bono defense. Last month, the firm launched a site specifically dedicated to the protection of the Church.
In an interview published yesterday, Amsterdam reveals that his team recently learned from the Assistant Secretary of State under Trump that the destruction of the UOC was a point of U.S. policy, which involved former Ukrainian President Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
Asked about the attitude towards Patriarch Bartholomew in America and what Americans think about the Ukrainian ecclesiastical conflict against the background of the war, Amsterdam said:
Well firstly, nobody in the United States knows him, other than people in the State Department. He, unfortunately, has allowed himself to be an instrument of a U.S. policy.
We learned last week from the Assistant Secretary of State, Robert Destro—he was Assistant Secretary under Trump—that it was U.S. policy to destroy the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox. I mean, absolutely shocking, this behavior…
So, again, this information came to us last week. We need to understand it; we need to ask the American Congress to investigate it. It explains a lot of the black PR about the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that has gone out. Because nobody is spreading this better, spreading this propaganda, than, unfortunately, the United States at times.
And Patriarch Bartholomew and President Poroshenko and Secretary of State Pompeo negotiated these dramatic changes in the life of the Church in Ukraine. And they’ve been heavily criticized for it.
And again, I am going to just strongly say that the state needs to stay out of the spiritual realm. And this behavior from the United States is unconstitutional and illegal. The behavior of Poroshenko in how he instrumentalized the Church for his political campaign is unconstitutional, under the Ukrainian constitution, of course.
In January 2021, Secretary of State Pompeo openly acknowledged the U.S.’s role in pressuring Churches to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” created by the U.S.-Ukraine-Constantinople specifically to replace the Church that had already existed in Ukraine for 1,000 years.
In May 2021, the former Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. admitted that the U.S. counts the creation of the OCU as its own achievement.