Uniates to start worships in a seized UOC temple in Kolomyia

Church of the Annunciation of the Mother of God. The current state. Photo: "Dzerkalo Media".

The Church of Annunciation of the Theotokos in Kolomiya, taken away by Uniates from the UOC Orthodox community, will be opened for the first time after its seizure.

The Kolomyia Diocese of the UGCC announced the first divine service for July 19, 2019 in the Annunciation temple of the city of Kolomyia, which was taken from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in October 2017. This is reported by the publication "Dzerkalo Media".

The publication claims that the church was “returned” to the jurisdiction of the UGCC because it belonged to the Uniates “according to church documents”.

The Bishop of the Kolomyia Diocese of the UGCC, Vasily Ivasiuk, stressed that the temple of the Annunciation of the Mother of God is “our monument, our history and our temple, which our grandfathers-great-grandfathers built, so we must preserve it.”

It is reported that the temple was almost completely restored, replacing the roof, some elements of the facade, and inside – some walls. Wooden domes and domed crosses were also replaced.

In turn, director of the “Architect” cooperative Ivan Ozaruk, who was engaged in restoration works, said that in the old church "everything held together with spit and a prayer and could collapse at any time"; that is why it was decided to replace a lot of temple elements.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that in June 2017, on the feast of the Holy Trinity, the priests of the UGCC, together with the radicals and representatives of nationalist groups, attempted to seize the temple of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos in Kolomyia.

Later, on October 18, 2017, a group of UGCC chaplains, with the support of right-wing radical forces, managed to seize the temple.

On October 22, representatives and supporters of the UGCC barred the UOC believers, who had come to pray, to enter inside the temple. Moreover, they used brute physical force, accompanying their actions with insults and threats. Greek Catholic priests impeded the work of journalists by pulling out cameras of their hands and demanding that the records be removed. The attack on its film crew was reported, in particular, by HTH TV channel. At this time, the police were passively watching the scene from the sidelines.

On October 25, a week after the seizure of the church, the ruling bishop of the Kolomyia-Chernovtsy Diocese of the UGCC, Vasily Ivasiuk, made an official statement, which justified the seizure by affirming the “historical right” of Greek Catholics to the shrine.

In turn, Professor of Kiev Theological Academy, Archpriest Alexy Dobosh denied the claim that the Greek Catholics have "historical right" to the temple. As is known, the temple was built in 1587, 9 years before the Brest Union. In addition, the date of the Union is conditional, since the process of papalization lasted for more than 100 years and, in fact, Kolomyia and later part of Right-Bank Ukraine were embraced by the union only by 1702, the historian explained.

In addition, Oleg Denisov, a representative of the human rights organization Human Rights Advocacy, said that regarding the situation in Kolomiya, the state authorities violated the law and exceeded the powers granted to them.

Later, the believers appealed to the Ivano-Frankovsk court, which opened the case on the claim of the UOC community in Kolomyia.

In June 2018, the Ivano-Frankovsk Regional State Administration informed the ruling bishop Tikhon of the Kolomyia Eparchy of the UOC that the Annunciation temple in Kolomyia belongs to the state. However, despite all these arguments, the church remained under the jurisdiction of the UGCC.

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