Religion-power relations discussed in Kiev

Participants of the round table “Religion and Power in Ukraine: Problems of Relationship”. Photo: vzcz.church.ua

The discussion was attended by more than 50 experts on state-church relations and members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.

On November 14, 2019, the regular session of the ongoing round table “Religion and Power in Ukraine: Problems of Relationship” took place in Kiev, reports the website of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The organizers of the event are the Razumkov Centre and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The roundtable participants discussed the topic “State and the Church in Ukraine – 2019: Outcomes of the Year and Prospects for the Development of Relations”. The discussion was attended by more than 50 experts in the field of state-church relations and members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations.

During the discussion, Metropolitan Augustin (Markevich) of Belaya Tserkov and Boguslav and a member of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC, Professor S. M. Bortnik, who represented the canonical Church at the event, reminded the forum participants of a number of problems in the sphere of relations between the authorities and the Church.

Metropolitan Augustine focused the attention of the audience on “gross state interference in the internal life of the Churches” and described a number of legislative initiatives as discriminatory.

Bortnik cited a number of statistical data, on the example of which he convincingly showed that the Tomos theme divided the church environment, led to hundreds of conflicts on the ground, and deepened the division of Ukrainian society along the West-East line. He also drew the attention of those present to the discrepancy between the “statements on community transfers” and their official re-registration. He stressed that the UOC remained the largest denomination in Ukraine.

The expert also said that often the clergy of the canonical Church are not allowed to perform chaplain service in the army, and local government bodies often refuse to allocate plots for the construction of new churches instead of those that were seized.

The UOC remains the Church of the Ukrainian people, and the manipulation of public opinion leads to the marginalization of the church factor in Ukrainian society, he stressed.

Earlier, Deputy Head of the UOC DECR Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich also noted that, to the chagrin of false analysts, the canonical Church will not break up. As an example, he cited the number of participants in the annual processions on the occasion of the celebration of the Baptism of Rus’. “Every year, a moment of truth comes, showing the real number of parishioners – this is a cross procession for the feast of St. Prince Vladimir. And the numbers of social studies immediately lose their relevance,” emphasized Archpriest Nikolai. “The faithful of the UOC are many times more than supporters of the OCU, and this can be seen with the naked eye. <...> According to my calculations, every Sunday from 2 (regular Sunday) to 3 (big feasts) million believers all over the country come to the churches of the UOC. The mathematics is simple: on average, 70 people pray in a rural church on Sunday, 200-300 in a city church, 500 or more in large cities and temples. I take 150 people for the average figure. We multiply it by 12,500 parishes that the UOC has. According to this formula, "OCU" has no more than 400 thousand. I think there’s really about 200 thousand due to the fact that there are several times fewer church and practicing people there, which cross processions also show.”

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