Moscow patriarch complains to international leaders about Ukraine


RIA Novosti, 17 May 2017


Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill sent letters to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the presidents of Russia and France, the chancellor of Germany, the Roman pope, and the general secretary of the United Nations with regard to the consideration by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of laws directed against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate (Ukrainskaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov Moskovskogo patriarkhata—UPTsMP), the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs) reports.


On Thursday, the Rada is scheduled to consider two controversial draft laws about the status of religious organizations. Draft law No. 4511 "Concerning the special status of religious organizations whose administrative centers are located in a state that has been recognized by the Ukrainian parliament as an aggressor-state," proposes that such religious organizations will be able to appoint metropolitans and bishops only in consultation with governmental bodies. Draft law No. 4128 introduces the term "self-identification," and also specifies the minimum number of representatives of a religious society in accordance with whose decision its subordination to religious centers functioning in Ukraine may be changed.


In the patriarch's opinion, attempts to drag the UPTsMP into political conflict are impermissible and may lead to irreversible consequences. As noted in the letters, the adoption of the draft laws "would place under threat the constitutional rights of millions of Ukrainian believers, provoke a wave of violence and new seizures of church buildings, and aggravate civil conflict in Ukraine, leading it into religious flatness." The patriarch thinks that this could complicate yet further the implementation of the Minsk accords.


"The letters note that in the event of the adoption of these draft laws, the discriminatory legal practice in regard to the majority of the Orthodox population of Ukraine will be legalized, which is unheard of for contemporary Europe. Such restrictive religious legislation has not been effected in Ukraine, even in the period of the communist regime, and nothing of the sort has existed in the rest of the territory of Europe, except in the time of nazi rule in Germany," the report states.


The primate of the RPTs pointed out that in 2014 to 2016 more than 40 church buildings of the UPTsMP were seized by force on Ukrainian territory. What served as the formal basis for such seizures were referendums by residents of a village that made a decision regarding "transfer" of the parish, without taking into account the opinion of active founders and members of the parish as a legal entity.


In Ukraine there operate the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UPTsMP), which is a self-administering church within the Moscow patriarchate, and also church structures that are not recognized by world Orthodoxy—the Kiev patriarchate (UPTsKP) and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAPTs). The UPTsMP has previously often reported incidents of looting, harassment of clergy, and seizures of Orthodox church buildings by representatives of the UPTsKP, which often acts with the support of authorities and radical nationalists. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 May 2017)

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