Ukrainian authorities going after another hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Church

Sumy, Sumy Province, Ukraine, February 29, 2024

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Ukrainian law enforcement authorities are investigating yet another hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

His Eminence Metropolitan Evlogy of Sumy received an official notice of suspicion for “inciting religious hatred” on February 20, he reported to the Union of Orthodox Journalists.

The investigation is based on statements he made in October about how a number of Local Churches, including the Polish and Albanian Churches, do not recognize the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

Officers from the National Police and the Ukrainian Security Service pressured him to sign a document admitting his guilt, but the hierarch refused, because he is innocent of inciting enmity.

“But they have already made it clear that it’ll be bad for me if I don’t sign,” the Metropolitan said.

He also issued a statement to the faithful of his diocese:

With deep pain in my heart, but firm faith in the righteous judgment of God, I address you in these difficult times for me. As you know, accusations have been made against me, which have no real basis. The reason for these accusations was my sermon in which I expressed support for our Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the erroneousness of the religious policy against our Church and its faithful children, which we all observe (see the video “Metropolitan Evlogy’s Appeal of 10/21/2023 About the Persecution of the UOC” on the YouTube channel Orthodox Sumy). Today, when false slanders pour out like a river, and with each day the number of threats grows and the situation intensifies, my soul and heart turn to God, seeking consolation and strength in Him. My episcopal conscience does not allow me to succumb to these attacks and admit guilt for actions I did not commit. I believe that God’s truth will prevail, but for this, I need your support and prayerful help.

I ask you, dear fathers, brothers, and sisters, to intensify your holy prayers to our Lord God, that He may strengthen my faith, fortitude of spirit, and grant wisdom not to make mistakes in this trial. May the Lord help me to maintain the purity of my conscience and continue serving before the throne of God impeccably and in righteousness, as He expects from us.

May the Merciful Lord bless you, your families, and your service. May He grant us all peace, patience, and strength to withstand the trials, keeping faith and love in our hearts.

Ukraine has already charged or is investigating a number of hierarchs on trumped-up charges of inciting religious enmity and supposedly supporting Russian aggression against Ukraine.

However, the latter charge would be especially hard to bring in the case of Met. Evlogy. Sumy, which is in far eastern Ukraine, just 35 miles from the Russian border, was one of the first regions to feel the effects when the war began in February 2022, and the Sumy Diocese was the first to stop commemorating His Holiness Patriarch Kirill in the Divine services.

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