Ukrainian parliament seeks to help new church


Kiev narrows space for Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate

Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 9 January 2019


From 15 to 18 January the Verkhovna Rada will consider a draft law concerning the procedure for transfer of Orthodox parishes into the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU). As the chairman of the parliament, Andrei Paruby, emphasized, they are talking about parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UPTsMP).


As is known, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UPTsKP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAPTs) agreed to merge into the new united church, the PTsU. UPTsMP opposed it. In December 2018, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law which required "religious organizations (associations), which are members of a structure/are part of a religious organization(association) whose administrative body is located outside the borders of Ukraine, in a state that by law has been ruled to be conducting armed aggression against Ukraine," to change their name.


Amendments has been introduced in the law "On freedom of conscience and religious organizations." A deputy from the "Bloc of Petro Poroshenko," Alexander Briginets, explained to Ukrainian news media: "In this case we are talking about the fact that a church operating in Ukraine, which is subordinate to the Russian church, should in the Ukraine be called not Ukrainian, but Russian. . . . A church must give itself the name. It may select any version—let's say, Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine."


Representatives of the Ukrainian government suggest that a substantial part of the parishes of the UPTsMP will gradually transfer into the new church, the PTsU. In early January, the chairman of parliament, Andrei Paruby, reported that already more than 40 parishes have declared such an intention. In order to transfer the situation into the legal channel, the Verkhovna Rada, according to Paruby, in the first plenary week (15-18 January) will consider a corresponding draft law on the procedure of transfer of parishes from one church into another. Although the chairman of parliament assured that the draft law is already prepared, its text has not been published on the website of the Verkhovna Rada.


Religious studies scholar Dmitry Gorevoi explained that the statements being voiced about the transfer of parishes of the UPTsMP into the PTsU are as of today only declarations of intent. The Verkhovna Rada intends to transfer the situation from the political and ecclesiastical channels into the legal channel.


"Each parish has its own charter, as a charter of a legal entity. They differ. . . . A charter itself must not contradict legislation. That is, the charter must not say that a bishop gives a parish permission to depart, because that contradicts legislation: in our country each religious parish is independent in organizational and legal matters both from the diocese and from religious centers," the expert told the UNN news agency.


Andrei Paruby declared that the announced draft law will clearly indicate the procedure: who and on what bases a decision will be made regarding the affiliation of one or another parish with a specific church, how this decision will be worded, and so forth. "This step, like the receipt of the tomos (regarding the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine—NG), will permit the transfer of parishes into the PTsU to grow into a great wave," he said.


The political expert Valentin Gaidan, in a commentary for the publication GolosUA, noted: "It is symbolic that the Greek Catholic Paruby is initiating matters pertaining to purely Orthodox topics." He thinks that the aforesaid draft law will be adopted in the near future, inasmuch as the church topic has become one of the chief topics in the course of the presidential election campaign. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 January 2019)

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