Patriarch Kirill raises the issue of persecution of UOC in European Council

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus met with Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland. Photo: ROC DECR site

The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church visited the Council of Europe and discussed with its staff a religious conflict in Ukraine.

On May 27, 2019, in Strasbourg, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus met with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Dunja Mijatović. During the meeting with Mijatović, Patriarch Kirill informed her that he was preparing to submit to the Council of Europe materials about violations of the rights of believers in Ukraine, reports “TASS”.

“I would like the Council of Europe to monitor the observance of the rights of people in the field of religious choice. I would give you specific materials that may require your participation,” said the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

He recalled that under the former President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine had adopted several laws that infringe upon the rights of parishioners and the clergy of the canonical Church.

“Quite recently, the President was changed in Ukraine, and we hope that the state human rights policy will change since the previous government openly embraced the principle of discrimination against people on religious grounds. <...> There is one positive point – believers of seized temples, who were forced to go to another jurisdiction, began to appeal to courts, and they won the absolute majority of the processes,” noted Patriarch Kirill.

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Miyatović promised, in response, to visit Ukraine soon and monitor the situation on the spot.

“I want to assure you that I am aware of what is happening there. I have not been to Ukraine yet, but I’m planning to be there soon. I also intend to come to Russia <...> When it comes to human rights, the violence of believers, this falls under my mandate. I will thoroughly address it,” she said.

As reported earlier, on February 2019, Bishop Victor of Baryshevka, Head of the UOC Representative Office at European International Organizations, also met with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and informed her about the persecutions of the UOC in Ukraine.

In May 2019, Bishop Qais (Sadiq) of Erzurum, Vicar of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, urged the world community to demand that the new government of Ukraine stop the oppression of believers of the canonical Church and return the grabbed property to the UOC. “So that the grabbed parishes and churches will be returned, so that church valuables, icons, vessels, and other things will be returned, so that the new leadership will be called upon to act according to the principle of "give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's", so that citizenship and rights will be restored to many clerics, as citizenship was restored to Mikhail Saakashvili (ex-governor of the Odessa region of Ukraine – Ed.),” said Bishop Qais. “Today is the right time” to impose sanctions on Ukraine if the persecution of the Church continues, he believes.

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