Patriarch Kirill makes frantic appeal for world attention


Religiia v Ukraine, 14 December 2018


Patriarch of Moscow Kirill sent letters on 14 December to primates of local Orthodox churches, Roman Pope Francis, the e head of the Anglican Communion Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches Olav Fykse Tveit, and also United Nations General Secretary A. Guterres, the general secretary of the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe Thomas Gereminger, French President E. Makron, and German Chancellor A. Merkel on the eve of the unification council of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, Religiia v Ukraine reports with reference to the website of the OVTsSMP and Credo.Press.


The head of the Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs) called the leaders' attention to "massive incidents of violations of the rights and liberties of hierarchs, clergy, and believers" of the UPTsMP [Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate]. "Recently the interference of leaders of the secular Ukrainian state in church affairs has acquired the character of crude pressure on the episcopate and clerics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which permist one to speak of the start of widespread persecutions," Vladyka Kirill maintains.


He identified the occasion for the "persecutions" as the unification council in Kiev, which was initiated by the patriarchate of Constantinople. As the head of the RPTs writes, "in order to force the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to participate in this event, agencies of the government and law enforcement of Ukraine have undertaken a number of actions that in blatant form violate the constitutional rights and liberties of citizens of Ukraine."


Among such actions he pointed to conversations and interrogations in the Security Service of Ukraine (S.B.U.), detentions "including while crossing state borders of Ukraine," and "humiliating searches." Kirill also suggests that Ukrainian authorities intend "to drive" the UPTsMP out of the Kiev caves lavra and the Pochaev lavra.


"In state news media," the head of the RPTs maintains, "a mass campaign of discrediting of the Ukrainian church is continuing. In fiolation of the right to privacy and the prohibition of the use of personal data, information of a personal nature concerning bishops and clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church possessed by the state is being published. In particular, personal data of a substantial portion of the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were published on the website Peacemaker along with commentaries that incite religious enmity." According to Patriarch Kirill's information, the Peacemeker website subsists on the direct support of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs.


"We do not know what the next steps of the Ukrainian authorities will be and what other violations of fundamental and inalienable rights of man and citizen they may commit for achieving the established goals in the time remaining until the presidential elections," Kirill writes. "But numerous incidents of discrimination against the Ukrainian church that have already occurred give reason to fear yet more infringement of rights and legal interests of Orthodox believers and the multiplication of their sufferings for loyalty to canonical Orthodoxy."


The head of the RPTs asks world leaders "to make every effort in order to protect the episcopate, clergy, and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from discrimination and pressure on the part of Ukrainian authorities and to defend the freedom of conscience and religious confession enshrined in international law."


We recall that in 2017, Vladyka Kirill urged world leaders to prevent "nazi" legislation in Ukraine. In 2014, in an appeal to primates of Orthodox churches, Patriarch Kirill spoke about the "unambiguous religious subtext" of the war in the Donbass, which was being conducted against Orthodox believers by "Uniates and schismatics who joined them." (tr. by PDS, posted 14 December 2018)
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