UOC lawyer: Church can be renamed only by its Bishops’ Council

Head of the Law Department of the UOC Protopriest Alexander Bakhov

Even if law No. 5309 enters into force, this will not automatically deprive the UOC and its parishes of their names, notes Protopriest Alexander Bakhov.

Only its governing body, the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and certainly not the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, can be in a position to rename the canonical Church, Protopriest Alexander Bakhov, head of the Law Department of the UOC, said on Facebook.

“Even if this law enters into force, this does not mean that the UOC and its parishes, monasteries and eparchies automatically lose their names,” the lawyer wrote.

He stressed that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was registered under its current name by the state authorities.

Any attempts by government authorities to force a religious union (the Church) to change its name are illegal, added Protopriest Alexander. He stressed that even if they try to implement the renaming by adopting relevant laws, international law evaluates such actions as interference in the internal affairs of a religious group.

Bill No. 5309 foresees amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” regarding the name of religious organizations (associations) that are incorporated into (form part of) a religious organization (association) whose governing center (administration) is located outside Ukraine in the country that, according to the Law of Ukraine, is recognized as carrying out military aggression against Ukraine and / or temporarily occupied part of the territory of Ukraine.”

The Law Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church addresses President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko with a request to veto this law.

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