The struggle with the Сhurch: why Ukraine needs anti-religious bills

The Orthodox life of Ukraine is now turbulent. Turmoil is made both by representatives of certain churches and by their supporters. What processes are now painfully experienced by Ukrainian Orthodoxy, whether laws can interfere in church life and what prospects Orthodoxy in Ukraine has are issues raised in an interview of Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol with "AiF".

About "fakes" and hypocrisy


– Vladyka, what is the situation with bills № 4511 and № 4128, which caused such violent rejection in the religious environment?

– No one officially refused to adopt the bills. At the moment, they are just postponed. In my opinion, when certain political forces need loud PR, the issue with their getting through the Verkhovna Rada will again become relevant. At the same time, we should not forget about bill № 5309, which is de facto aimed at depriving the UOC of its official name.

 What is the purpose of this?

– In Ukraine, there are forces that still hope that the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognizes the so-called UOC-KP. It is not ruled out that a number of strategic and tactical steps are tailored to this idea. In particular, it is about the actual blocking by the Ministry of Culture of the statutes of the UOC, the persistent lobbying of bills that can lead to a large-scale raider seizure of temples, publications of sociological studies with questionable rates of the supposed leadership of the Kiev Patriarchate in terms of the number of believers. Equally indicative is spreading "fakes" in the media to prepare public consciousness for tightening state policy towards the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine. One gets the impression that the main goal of all these approaches is to involve the Patriarchate of Constantinople in any way in the global Ukrainian "church venture".

In this context, I would like to draw attention to one interesting point. Most recently, one of the prominent speakers of the so-called UOC-KP has noted in his interview that Constantinople follows developments in the religious sphere of Ukraine. And as soon as Phanar sees that the position is in favor the UOC-KP, it will allegedly recognize it immediately. Moreover, according to the representative of the Kiev Patriarchate, the Greeks will come and say, "We have always supported you".

These words are literally imbued with a kind of disdain for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which, in the opinion of the speaker, is ready to hypocrite, if necessary. However, even this is not the main thing. If we assume that what has been said at least a little corresponds to reality, then the representative of the Kiev Patriarchate simply frames Constantinople in the eyes of the whole Ecumenical Orthodoxy with his revelation.

Important are people, not walls


 How does Constantinople actually treat representatives of Ukrainian Orthodoxy?

– Last year in Chambezi, at the meeting of the heads of the Local Orthodox Churches, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew welcomed Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine, who, as the head of the Constantinople Church noted, is recognized by all Orthodox Churches as the only canonical Orthodox first hierarch in Ukraine. Filaret has never had such recognition. And not only because his word caused a tragic church schism in Ukraine. The Kiev Patriarchate frankly rampages throughout the canonical territories of the Orthodox Churches, arbitrarily basing their structures there and filling them with banned in ministry clergymen. The most recent example of it is the May decision of the so-called UOC-KP to create the European Exarchate. Proceeding from this, the question arises: how can one, on the one hand, be so dismissive of Orthodox Churches, and, on the other hand, hope that they will approve and all the more support anyone's attempts to recognize the Kiev Patriarchate?

 And what will the UOC do if the scandalous bills are adopted?

– We will defend our rights, acting within a legal framework. Moreover, other denominations support us in this. The lobbyists of the bills shyly conceal the fact of their relevant tough response. Jews, Roman Catholics, Lutherans – this is an incomplete list of religious organizations in Ukraine, which have criticized these initiatives.

Other Orthodox Local Churches also take our side. His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine said that the Jerusalem Church strongly condemns those who take actions against the parishes of the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Serbian Patriarch Irinej called the last initiatives of the Verkhovna Rada to be restriction of the freedom of conscience of Ukrainian citizens, and Patriarch Neophyte on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church stressed that anti-church bills have no analogues in the civilized world.

It is especially necessary to understand another hard fact, confirmed by the whole history of the Church. Theoretically, the UOC can be deprived of its name and many parishes. But this does not put off real believers. They will remain faithful children of the Church, continuing to pray in any premises suitable for this purpose. After all, in fact, it is not walls that are important, but people. And the Church will keep them.

It is also important that the World Orthodoxy will not recognize the Kiev Patriarchate even if thousands of churches are forced under its aegis and it is "called" "Ukrainian Orthodox Church". The corresponding signals from the Local Churches come constantly.

Interviewed by Vera SHERSHNEVA

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Poll

What will happen if the Church of Greece recognizes the OCU?
it will put itself out of Orthodoxy
51%
it will give rise to global recognition of the OCU by Local Churches
17%
nothing will happen, the Greeks will be the first and the last to recognize the OCU
31%
Total votes: 467

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