UPTsMP HEAD, ADDRESSING PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE, DENIES STATISTIC OF TRANSFER OF CHURCHES TO PTsU AND COMPLAINS ABOUT LOCAL AUTHORITIES
Credo.Press, 22 March 2019
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met on 21 March in Kiev, on his own initiative, with members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, among whom was the primate of the UPTsMP, Metropolitan Onufrey. As the official website of the UPTsMP reports, the metropolitan expressed to the president claims connected with the transfer of parishes of the UPTsMP into the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU).
Also participating in the meeting from the side of the UPTsMP were the chancellor of this church, Metropolitan Antony, and the vice-chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the UPTsMP, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich.
In his speech, Metropolitan Onufrey spoke about "interference by representatives of the government in church affairs" and about "other violations of law." He said that heads of local administrations and deputies conduct meetings of territorial communities (not religious communities) whose participants vote for the transfer of local church buildings to the PTsU. As an example, the hierarch described events of 10 March in the village of Baranovka, Zhitomir oblast, where a deputy from the Radical Party, Oleg Kovalsky, gathered a "village assembly" [veche] and urged its participants to go seize the local church building of the UPTsMP.
Metropolitan Onufrey also "denied" reports in the news media about around 450 parishes already leaving the UPTsMP in recent months. According to his information, only 42 parishes have transferred into the PTsU, including nine without a priest. Another 55 instances he characterized as "forcible seizures" with "cutting of locks and beating of believers." In 137 cases, the primate of the UPTsMP declared, a territorial community voted for a transfer instead of a religious community. In these cases, the UPTsMP continues to use the respective church buildings, although representatives of the government reported their transfer into the PTsU.
After asking the president to intervene in this situation, the primate of the UPTsMP declared that his church advocates an "integral and united" Ukraine, and that means in particular that it does not recognize the annexation of Crimea to the RF. Petro Poroshenko said that neither he nor any regional administration has delivered instructions about the transfer of a parish from the UPTsMP into the PTsU. The president suggested that the head of the UPTsMP hold a separate meeting. He gave instructions to his aide to study the situation of each episode that is considered by the leadership of the UPTsMP to be a "seizure of a church." (tr. by PDS, posted 22 March 2019)
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