Synod of UOC demands to close criminal case against priest from Zaporozhye
The Holy Synod stated that criminal proceedings should be terminated, since the cleric of the Zaporozhye eparchy did not violate the laws of Ukraine.
Criminal proceedings opened by the Prosecutor General's Office of the Zaporozhye region against the clergyman who refused to commemorate a child baptized in schism has signs of persecution on religious grounds and is of political nature, the decision of the Holy Synod says, as reported by the Information and Education Department of the UOC.
Members of the Holy Synod stressed that these criminal proceedings are aimed at interfering in the internal affairs of the UOC, and that such actions are essentially a criminal prosecution of the religious community for being guided in its activities by the sacred canons and rules of the Church.
The Synod drew the authorities’ attention to the fact that under international law they had no right to interfere in the internal affairs of the religious community. The religious community independently determines the procedure and way of exercising or non-exercising rites over persons of other religious communities.
Based on the canons of the Orthodox Church, the governing body of the UOC confirmed that church ordinances and rituals can be performed solely on members of the Church. A member in the Church can only become as a result of the free adoption of the sacrament of Baptism.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the UOC (Journal No. 1), which was held in Kiev on March 14.
Earlier, the clergyman of the Zaporozhye eparchy of the UOC Eugeny Molchanov, who refused to read the funeral service over the baby baptized in the Kiev Patriarchate, was attacked by the social media, and the Prosecutor's office opened criminal proceedings against him with the statement: "Representatives of the Zaporozhye eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate allow selective approach to the exercise of religious rites, giving preference to those persons who were baptized in the UOC MP, and thus insult the feelings of citizens in connection with their religious beliefs."