Vinnitsa Eparchy of UOC: Yurash’s statements incite interfaith enmity

Archbishop Varsonofy (Stoliar). Photo: UOC DECR Pilgrimage Centre

The eparchy believes that the official’s untruthful and speculative statements about Vladyka Varsonofy are aimed at deepening the interfaith crisis in the region.

In a statement about the inexpediency of the participation of Archbishop Varsonofy of Vinnitsa and Bar in the meetings of the regional Council of Churches and religious organizations, released on June 3, 2019, there are no words that the head of the Vinnitsa Eparchy of the UOC refuses from membership in the Council, as presented by Andrei Yurash, the head of the Department for Religious Affairs at the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, reads the official statement published by the press service of the Vinnitsa Eparchy of the UOC on 6 June 2019.

“Archbishop Varsanofy of Vinnitsa and Bars did not make any statements on leaving the regional Council of Churches,” the eparchial press service emphasized. “In particular, the statement says the following: in the situation that has developed in the religious life of the Vinnitsa region, ‘the leadership of the Vinnitsa Eparchy considers the direct participation of Archbishop Varsonofy in the meetings of the Council of Churches inexpedient’. That is we are talking about a temporary measure aimed at influencing the religious situation in the region, and not a categorical refusal to cooperate with the regional authorities and religious organizations in the region.”

The eparchy’s press service explained that Vladyka Varsonofy favoured a constructive dialogue and fruitful cooperation with representatives of the regional authorities and religious organizations, but in the work of the Regional Council of Churches, "no constructive effect has been observed for a long time".

“Recently, meetings of the Council of Churches have turned into a kind of “hours of praise” of the Vinnitsa regional authorities and personally the head of the Vinnitsa Regional State Administration Valery Koroviy. Perhaps, there would be nothing bad in this if interfaith peace and social harmony truly reigned in the region, as some local religious leaders keep saying. But in reality, the situation in the region is exactly the opposite: for almost half a year, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Vinnitsa region has been consistently and purposefully discriminated against. Adherents of the OCU have seized the cathedral and the eparchy administration building; under false pretexts it becomes impossible for the state registration of Archbishop Varsonofy as the head of the Vinnitsa Eparchy; representatives of the UOC are demonstratively ignored when invited to official and festive events, the church raiding is gaining momentum in the region,” the statement reads.

At the same time, as emphasized in the UOC eparchy, the most favourable conditions are artificially created for the newly formed OCU: at official events, its representatives are always in the forefront, its communities are registered first of all, its activists get away with provocations and outright offences.

“When the regional Council of Churches, created to jointly discuss the pressing problems of religious life, is instead concerned only with giving praise and thanks to the officials for peace and harmony, which are actually not here (and we note that not without the fault of these officials), what is this if not hypocrisy and adulation? Can an Orthodox bishop take part in this? What kind of benefits will this ‘activity’ bring?” asked the press service of the eparchy.

However, provided the Council of Churches renounces such principles, Archbishop Varsonofy is ready to participate in its meetings and continue cooperation with both the regional authorities and representatives of the Churches and religious organizations of the Vinnitsa region.

Also, the Vinnitsa Eparchy press service noted that the words of the “Candidate of Political Science and Religious Studies concurrently” Andrei Yurash about a certain “pro-Russian, Russian-world party in the region” are speculative and are aimed solely at inciting interfaith hatred in the region.

“We are forced to note that once again we observe an official openly neglect the ethics of a civil servant and indulge in public statements, which, apart from being offensive to the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, contribute to the deepening of interfaith hostility in the Vinnitsa region, as well and in Ukraine as a whole,” the eparchy press service resumed.

As the UOJ reported, earlier Andrei Yurash wrote on his page on the social network that by refusing to participate in meetings of the Regional Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, Archbishop Varsonofy (Stoliar) Vinnitsa and Bar strengthened the “pro-Russian, Russian-world side in the region”.

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