Ukrainian Orthodox alarmed by law proposed in Kiev


RIA Novosti, 14 July 2017


The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate (UPTsMP) is sounding the alarm because of a new draft law of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, according to which the church will be forced to change its name.


The Ukrainian parliament's Committee on Affairs of Culture and Spirituality approved draft law No. 5309 "On introducing changes into the Ukrainian law 'On freedom of conscience and religious organizations.'" According to it, changes will be introduced into legislation "regarding the name of religious organizations (associations), which are members of the structure (are a part) of a religious organization (association) whose governing center (administration) is located outside the borders of Ukraine, in a state that, according to Ukrainian law, is recognized as committing military aggression against Ukraine and/or has temporarily occupied a part of Ukrainian territory."


"By this draft law it is proposed to deprive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its own name! It turns out that they not only want to deprive believers of the UPTs of the possibility of worshiping in their own church buildings but also to take away the name of the church," Alexander Bakhov, the head of the legal department of the UPTsMP, commented on the draft law on his Facebook account.


He posited that the adoption of the document will benefit primarily the Kiev patriarchate (UPTsKP) that is not recognized by world Orthodoxy.


"Apparently Mikhail Antonovich Denisenko (the head of UPTsKP—ed.) thinks that the name will give him the recognition of other churches and canonicity," the archpriest presumed.


In May the Supreme Soviet intended to consider two controversial draft laws about the status of religious organizations. The first draft law proposed religious organizations whose administrative centers are located in a state recognized by Ukraine as an "aggressor state" will be able to appoint metropolitans and bishops only with the consent of government bodies. The second draft law proposed to grant the right to parishioners to change the jurisdiction of religious communities whose centers operate both in Ukraine and beyond its borders. However voting on the documents did not occur.


On the day of consideration of the draft law, 18 May, believers of the UPTsMP conducted a prayer service "for admonishing deputies." More than 10,000 persons participated in the worship service.


In Ukraine there operates the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a self-administering church within the Moscow patriarchate, and also the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which are not recognized by world Orthodoxy. At the same time the UPTsMP has frequently reported harassment of clergy and seizures of Orthodox church buildings by representatives of UPTsKP. In particular, in 2014 to 2016, the UPTsMP lost 40 churches. (tr. by PDS, posted 15 July 2017)

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