Epiphany receives the Religious Freedom Award in the US
The head of the OCU Epiphany Dumenko was awarded the “Athenagoras Human Rights Award” in New York, given for caring for the right to freedom of religion in the world.
“With a sense of sincere gratitude, I received the Athenagoras Human Rights Award in New York today. I accepted it not as an award for himself personally, but as a reward of success for the work of thousands and even millions of Ukrainian Orthodox believers in my homeland and in the diaspora,” wrote the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “The dream of our people about their autocephalous Local Church has come true. Therefore, I believe that the dream of renewing the unity of all the Fullness of Orthodoxy can be realized, too.”
The Athenagoras Human Rights Award was founded in 1986 by the National Council of the Order of the Apostle St. Andrew, archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America.
As explained by the head of the OCU, the award is given to a person or organization that “through its actions, intentions and dedication, consistently demonstrates concern for the fundamental rights and freedoms of religion for all people.”
The Athenagoras Human Rights Award winners have been the last head of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev, the 39th President of the USA Jimmy Carter, the 41st President of the USA George W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush.
We recall that on September 19, 2019, the head of the UOC Mission at European international organizations, Bishop Viktor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka, made a statement on the violation of the rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at an OSCE session. Vladika pointed out that since the beginning of 2019, acts of violence, many of which are openly aggressive in relation to UOC believers, haven’t ceased in Ukraine.
He noted that the seizure of Orthodox churches continues. Since the beginning of 2019, 91 churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been forcibly seized. At the same time, criminals inflict bodily harm to priests and believers, there are frequent cases of threats and hate speech against them. The massive illegal re-registration of religious organizations of the UOC into the OCU by regional state administrations is also frequent. It often happens without proper examination of documents, on the basis of fictitious minutes of meetings at which people who are not members of the religious communities of the UOC vote.
As reported earlier, Epiphany Dumenko was invited to the United States for a meeting of the archons of the Phanar. At the event, Epiphany was honored for his "contribution to the unity of Orthodoxy".