Catholic bishop objects to changes in Ukrainian laws


RISU, 18 October 2016


The bishop of the Kharkov-Zaporozhe diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, Stanislav Shirokoradiuk, in a broadcast on Radio Maria, subjected to harsh criticism new religious draft laws in the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada: draft law No. 4511 concerning the special status of religious organizations whose administrative centers are located in a state recognized by the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada as an aggressor state and the draft law of Verkhovna Rada deputy Viktor Elenskoro, No. 4128, introducing changes into the Ukrainian law "On freedom of conscience and religious organizations" (regarding changes of the jurisdiction of religious parishes), where a clear mechanism by which a religious parish may change its affiliation is spelled out.


Law No. 4511 provides for granting special status to religious organizations whose administrative centers are located in an aggressor state. It also proposes to provide a special procedure for registration of charters of such religious organizations. In addition it proposes to coordinate with an authorized state body for invitation of foreign citizens to conduct preaching activity on Ukrainian territory. In the event of systematic violations of existing legislation of Ukraine or the establishing of an instance of cooperation with "representatives of military or terrorist groupings . . . the authorized state body initiates the termination of the activity of such a religious organization on Ukrainian territory."


With regard to this draft law, Vladyka Stanislav noted:  "The church is Christ's; it is free. Special statuses should not be created for it. How is it possible to apply such laws? If the church exists, it has its own laws. What kind of additional status is necessary to dream up? Who has such fantasies? If we have problems with some church, then we have problems not with the church but with its leaders. If someone violates the law, there should be measures for how he should answer for that. If someone conducts anti-Ukrainian politics--it is not important who he is, a politician or a priest—then he should answer. Regardless of his confession. Why create for the church a cage with a special status? Who needs this law about special status? Each church should develop freely and it is not necessary to create some special status for it. This is an insult to the church and it testifies generally very badly about Ukraine. This does not testify about the democratic nature of the state and about it reasonableness. It is underdevelopment. And how is it not surprising that the lawmakers are doing this?—they are people who should give it a little thought," Vladyka Stanislav emphasized.


Viktor Elensky's draft law No. 4128 prescribes a clear mechanism by which a religious parish may, by a majority vote, change its submission to one or another jurisdiction. Bishop Stanislav Shirokoradiuk called this draft law "anarchy and hostile takeover."


"Regarding the Elensky draft law No. 4128. It will create anarchy. It is clearly written so that everything is done so that the Kiev patriarchate would be able to seize parishes of the Moscow patriarchate for itself. It will create a corrupt scheme so that parishes will freely transfer into the Kiev patriarchate. . . . And why not act like the whole world: every religious parish should be a legal entity. The church should be a legal entity. Such a law would protect the church. I am not for the Moscow patriarchate—heaven forbid. But such laws should not be. One must not be silent here. There is a legal entity that has a right to its own property. The constitution protects this. But here they want to act like on the Maidan. Let's take a vote, and all that. On the Maidan, revolution comes near the church. . . . Do you understand what this is coming to? It is not good; it is not just. Might makes right. This is not Christian. This is hostile takeover," Bishop Stanislav Shirokoradiuk thinks.


He said the church should be a legal entity and have its own property. If someone wants to transfer, let him transfer himself, but the church's property remains with it. Everything should be resolved legally.


The Roman Catholic bishop criticized the practice of continual changes in the religious laws in Ukraine: "How many time can these laws be changed? In the 25 years of Ukrainian independence, something is continually being changed. If a law is adopted, don't rush to comply, because tomorrow something will be changed. That is our problem," the representative of the Roman Catholic Church said. (tr. by PDS, posted 20 October 2016)


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