Cypriot hierarch – to Ukrainian authorities: Return seized temples
The Metropolitan of the Church of Cyprus has promised that the Orthodox Christians of Europe will appeal to the European Court to restore justice to the UOC believers.
Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos of the Cypriot Orthodox Church called on the Ukrainian authorities to return seized churches to the UOC and ensure equal rights for believers of all faiths in the country, reports the website of the UOC DECR.
On June 25, 2019, after the end of the Divine Liturgy at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, who leads the delegation of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, read the address to the President of Ukraine, Mr. Vladimir Zelensky, the Ukrainian government and parliament.
Metropolitan Isaiah, congratulating Vladimir Zelensky on his election as President of Ukraine, stressed that “here, on the sacred and heroic Ukrainian land, an incredibly great tragedy and injustice against the millions of Orthodox Ukrainians under the pastoral care of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry is happening”.
According to him, it goes about "thousands of Orthodox Ukrainian citizens who have been expelled from their churches and suffer persecution and violence from their other compatriots".
The hierarch of the Church of Cyprus said that “in the world Orthodoxy and especially the European Orthodox people are very concerned about the violations of religious human rights that occur in Ukraine against our brothers”.
Therefore, he says, “we raise our voice and at the same time express protest together with the voice of millions of Orthodox around the world who share our sadness – along with Ukrainians, Europeans, Greeks, Cypriots, Arabs, Serbs, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Romanians, Americans, Russians, Georgians, Albanians and many others". Because “we are all members of the one Body of Christ our Lord. And when one member of the body is painful, all the members of this body feel pain,” says Metropolitan Isaiah.
The head of the delegation of the Church of Cyprus stresses that "it is impossible that such violations occur in a democratic state such as Ukraine, which compromise the heroic history and dignity of the democratic people of Ukraine".
That is why the Metropolitan of Thamasos, on behalf of all the Orthodox, asks the President of Ukraine “to hear our voice and right the wrongs. May all churches be returned to their rightful Orthodox owners and may each serve God in the spirit of freedom and respect for human rights, without interfering in the faith of the other.”
At the same time, he stressed that Orthodox Christians in Europe are beginning to collect signatures from all over Europe in order “to apply to the European Court of Human Rights for justice.
At the end of his address, Metropolitan Isaiah expressed confidence that Vladimir Zelensk as “a democratic person who loves his people will do everything that is right and fair, so that Ukrainians see their President as the father and protector of their rights”.
Earlier, the hierarch of the Serbian Church, Bishop Anthony of Moravia, said that the Local Churches do not recognize other Churches in Ukraine, except the one headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry.