CHIEF SPIRITUAL WEAPON OF OUR VICTORY IS UNITY—PRESIDENT AT MEETING WITH RELIGIOUS LEADERS
RISU, 24 April 2016
President Petro Poroshenko noted the importance of creating a united local Orthodox church during a meeting with representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.
"In the conditions of a hybrid war, when Ukraine is resisting armed aggression of a neighboring state, our enemies are trying to use the religious factor in their own interests. And the main spiritual weapon of our victory, what the enemy fears, is our unity. Attacks are directed, in the first place, in order to divide our state and undermine it from within," the head of state emphasized. The president noted that despite international support of Ukraine's struggle against the aggressor, victory depends upon the Ukrainians themselves, their faith and efforts.
The head of state emphasized that society demands that all state agencies work for unity and hopes for this from religious organizations.
"It is obvious that in the current situation it is difficult for many believers to agree with the existing division of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. Of course, I oppose, on principle, that the state interfere—and I will not permit this—in inter-church relations. This is the affair of believers and churches. But it is also wrong to ignore the will of the people, just as it is unacceptable to permit interference in these processes of another state," the president noted. The head of state expressed readiness to help implement those solutions that leaders of Ukrainian churches themselves propose.
The president emphasized that sociological surveys show that an ever greater number of Orthodox citizens of Ukraine want to have—as this is accepted in the entire Orthodox world and majority of Orthodox countries—a united local autocephalous church, a "church that is eucharistically and prayerfully united and, what is very important, administratively independent from other states."
The head of state noted that for the Ukrainian government, respect for freedom of conscience and the religious feelings of Ukrainian citizens remains unchanged. "I am sure that religious peace and mutual respect of the state and church is a notable achievement of our country, and Ukraine has been characterized by ecclesiastical peace and harmony since the time of independence. And we must cherish and develop this heritage of ours," Petro Poroshenko noted, adding that the efforts of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, which this year is twenty years old, are a significant contribution to this.
The president also greeted the Jewish community for the holiday of Passover. The head of state recalled that today a majority of Ukrainians are celebrating Lazarus Saturday and tomorrow is Pussy-Willow [Palm] Sunday, and 1 May is the great feast of Pascha. "The approach of this holiday again recalls the importance of faith, hope, and love in our life," Petro Poroshenko emphasized. This was reported by the official website of the president of Ukraine. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 April 2016)
UKRAINE INTRODUCES STATE INQUISITION
Officials and nationalists shred cultural and spiritual ties with Russia
by Vladislav Maltsev
Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 25 April 2016
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, speaking on 22 April at a meeting with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (a consultative body uniting the head of chief religious groups of the country), declared that "in conditions of a hybrid war, when Ukraine is resisting armed aggression of a neighboring state, our enemies are trying to use the religious factor in their own interests." He further elaborated that he has in mind "inter-church relations," in which "it is impermissible to allow interference in these processes of another state." What this interference consists of and from whose side it is coming, Poroshenko did not specify, but he said that Ukraine needs "a church that is eucharistically and prayerfully unified and, what is very important, administratively independent from other states." It is obvious that he is talking about the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate (UPTsMP), which is a "self-administering with rights of broad autonomy" part of the Russian Orthodox Church.
"It is obvious that in today's situation it is difficult for many believers to agree with the existing division of Ukrainian Orthodoxy," the Ukrainian president added. That is, he is posing the question of the necessity of merging the Orthodox churches operating in Ukraine—besides the UPTsMP there exist in the country the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. To be sure, in distinction from the UPTsMP, they are not recognized in the Orthodox world. The desire to have a united Orthodox church in Ukraine was also voiced a day earlier, during a visit to Romania. As the website of the Ukrainian president reports, he "informed the patriarch (Romanian—NG) Daniel about the desires of the Orthodox community of Ukraine for restoration of the unity of Ukrainian Orthodoxy by the creation of an autocephalous local Orthodox church and its recognition by world Orthodoxy."
On 21 April in the most ancient Kievan church of Holy Wisdom there was a round table, a number of whose participants also demanded "unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy." At the same time this aspect was mentioned: "It will not manage to unify Orthodoxy only by its own (apparently from the church milieu—NG) efforts," the head of the Department of Contemporary Religious Processes of the Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Liudmila Filipovich, reported. In other words, help is needed from outside, apparently from the side of agencies of the government.
"Of course, I do not favor, in principle, that the state interfere—and I will not permit this—in inter-church relations," Poroshenko declared on 22 April, as if in response to this suggestion. "This is the affair of believers and churches. But it is wrong to ignore the will of the people."
On this same day, a group of deputies, the first of whom named is a member of the fraction "Bloc of Petro Poroshenko," Oleg Petrenko, presented for consideration by the Verkhovna Rada a draft law No. 4511 "Concerning the special status of religious organizations whose administrative centers are located within a state that is recognized by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as an aggressor state." The text of the draft law has not been published yet, even on the official website of the parliament, but it does not presage anything good for the UPTsMP.
Judging by everything, the lawmakers have decided to insure themselves against public reaction. On 22 April the deputies left for a vacation and they will come out of it on 10 May. In that time the UPtsMP would be able to analyze the text, speak out regarding it in news media, and even complain to international bodies. But there is no text of the draft law so there is nothing to complain about.
Practically simultaneously, Ukrainian officials proclaimed yet another initiative regarding disengaging fellow citizens from Moscow's influence. "There is an idea about the creation of an agency that would carry out concert, theatre, and touring activity whose function would also be to develop those laws that would make impossible tours, visits, and professional activity of those people who speak out in a pro-Russian manner," Minister of Culture Evgeny Nishchuk told Hromadske.tv on 23 April. In his opinion, "the list should be unequivocal and very strict," and he plans "to get agreement from SBU and other agencies as to its implementation."
As regards strictness, one can recall that the above mentioned Deputy Petrenko is also a fighter of the "Azov" regiment of the national guard, which was recognized last year by the U.S.A. Congress as neo-nazi. As recently as January of this year in an interview with the Internet publication Glavkom, Petrenko declared that he is listed as before as an Azovite (his stay in the Verkhovna Rada is an assignment), and the commander of the regiment, Andrei Biletsky, is also his "white leader." "Only in him do I see someone who potentially could become the father of the nation." On 23 April the deputy changed his picture on the social network Facebook to his photograph among members of the Azov civil corps, whose members previously broke up congresses and pickets of fellow citizens whom they suspected of separatism or leftist ideas, and they beat up blacks in the stands of the Dinamo stadium. So the cadres of decisive fighters with the influence of Moscow are already prepared. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 April 2016)
CHAIRMAN OF UPTs LEGAL DEPARTMENT COMMENTS ON LATEST PROVOCATION OF ODIOUS PEOPLE'S DEPUTIES
Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 25 April 2016
People's deputies and the news media are again trying to inflame hatred toward the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and they portray what they wish for as reality. This was declared by the chairman of the Legal Department of the UPTs, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, commenting for the Information and Education Department of the UPTs on draft law No. 4511 "On the special status of religious organizations, whose administrative centers are located in a state that has been recognized by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as an aggressor state."
This draft law was introduced on 22 April for consideration by the parliament by 13 deputies, among whom is the odious Alexander Briginets.
"Along with our anti-occupation deputies association Nastuplenia, I have introduced the draft of a law (4511)," the people's deputy wrote on his Facebook page on 24 April. The ambiguous commentary by Briginets evoked a frenzy and interpretations in a number of news media. For several days now news has been actively published in Internet space that it is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to which this draft law is delivering a blow.
"It should be noted that those who are talking about this again want to portray what they wish for as reality," the chairman of the UPTs Legal Department, Archpriest Alexander Bakhov, emphasized. After all, the lawyer explains, "the center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is located in Kiev, and its founder is the council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church."
"Considering the position of one of the initiators of the draft law, really, I assume that it is intended, in the first place, as interference in the activity of the UPTs," Archpriest Alexander noted.
He also called attention to the fact that at the present time the text of this draft law has not been published. "Therefore in essence there is still nothing to comment about," the chairman of the UPTs Legal Department summed up. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 April 2016)
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