Misunderstandings hinder parishes joining new Ukrainian church


RISU, 23 February 2019


This was stated by the director of the Department for Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, Andrei Yurash, 5 kanal reports.


"As of today, we have already recorded about 350 completed processes of change of subordination from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU), whereas about 340 have already been precisely documented. Not all of these transfers have yet been completed and legally registered at the level of documents, but I have in view all instances where a meeting of the religious community has been held and where this process was certified when the faithful met, made a decision, and registered in the proper form. I am sure that the process is being artificially impeded, and in the coming months I think we will have a much more dynamic trend," Yurash said.


To the interviewer's question about how quickly parishes are transferring and what kind of impeding factors there are, Yurash answered: "Why do I speak about artificial impediments? Because very many external mechanisms are operating, which are intended to prevent the maximum number of parishes from joining the PTsU. On one hand, external factors try to persuade Ukrainian clergy in the parishes that there has been no recognition on the part of other churches, because only Constantinople has given recognition, and the churches are being told that there are no processes of unification and parishes do not want to transfer and therefore they should not recognize [the Ukrainian church—tr.]. In a word, it is necessary to break this cycle from within. And the two legislative bills I mentioned provide a complete legislative basis so that this process of change and transfer has a complete legal basis. The law, particularly No. 4128D, gives a complete mechanism and logistics for accomplishing this."


Yurash also stressed that there is a lot of speculation. One idea is that the change of a church's subordination supposedly can be initiated by 10 to 15 persons, who are close to the priest, and there are attempts to give to these people the right to make decisions regarding the functioning of the future parish.


"This is incorrect, of course. A parish is all of the members of the community, who regularly participate and identify themselves with the religious community. A second kind of speculation is that supposedly only clergymen have the right to call a meeting in order to discuss this question. But the law clearly says that the right of initiating the meeting of the parish belongs to its members. That is, the word 'members' is used, and this means that a minimum of two persons have the right to convene a meeting of the parish and therefore the priest does not determine the decision of the members of the community," Yurash said.


RISU's interactive map shows that as of 23 February 2019, 354 parishes have already transferred from the UPTsMP to the PTsU. (tr. by PDS, posted 25 February 2019)

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