ROC: There’s real persecution against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Seizures of churches violate the rights of Orthodox Ukrainians to freedom of religion

According to Patriarch Kirill, 50 churches of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been forcefully seized by schismatics in recent years.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia brought to public attention the fact of constant attacks on temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and beating priests. The Patriarch put the spotlight on the scale of the crimes in an interview with Bulgarian media on the eve of his visit to Bulgaria, reports Interfax-Religion.

“It’s a very difficult situation in Ukraine right now, said the Primate of the ROC. “There’s real persecution against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. 50 churches have been forcefully seized in recent times. There are constant attacks on churches and priests are beaten… There are shots where a priest in his robe is covered in blood, and they’re calling him an occupant, but he’s a Ukrainian, who was born in Ukraine and speaks only Ukrainian. They beat him only because he’s in the canonical Church, which the local authorities call an occupant Church.” 

The primate also expressed his regret that the West does not criticize Ukraine for violating human rights and religious freedoms, and not just violations, but an “unspeakable infringement, with the use of violence; it’s all been recorded – on television and in various documents”.

In Pat. Kirill’s view, Ukrainian society today is very divided, and what is happening in the Donbass “is a civil war: one part of Ukraine did not accept what is happening in the other part.” The sole force which has peacekeeping potential, in his opinion, is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, because it has a flock both in the east and west of the country.

Pat. Kirill expressed hope that “all these political turbulences in Ukraine will pass, and the people will again live peacefully; human rights, religious freedoms will be respected again; and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church will continue its ministry,” the Patriarch concluded, promising to pray for that.

In December 2017, the head of the Legal Department of the Kyiv Metropolitanate of the UOC, Protopriest Alexander Bakhov, noted the destructive activity of the Kyiv Patriarchate: over the four-year period, they have seized about 50 churches of the canonical Church. He expressed hope that in connection with Filaret’s letter of repentance in the ROC, the negotiation process will begin, which will suspend such activity.

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