Bohdan: Communities changing jurisdiction must be backed by police and SBU

Elena Bohdan. Photo: oou.org.ua

The procedure of registration and re-registration of religious organizations should be simplified as much as possible, believes Elena Bohdan.

The police and the SBU are authorized to protect citizens who in the country with the rule of law should not suffer from violence because of their will, said the sociologist Elena Bohdan, who won the competition for the post of Head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience, in an interview with RISU.

In her opinion, issues of ethnic policy and religion are very sensitive. They require a huge responsibility, and "it is important to have in this position (the head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy – Ed) a person for whom the European future of Ukraine is a value".

"Now I see four main directions of work,” Bohdan explained. “The monitoring component (in particular, to help the ministry form the policy). The educational component: unfortunately, now there is a lack of basic important information. Promotion of platforms for dialogue: this service has a function of mediation and it should work to promote unity in diversity. And a very difficult area of work for today is the function of registration of religious organizations".

According to her, "the task of the state body is to promote the rights of believers, not to test their perseverance and stress resistance", so the registration and re-registration procedure should be "adequately simplified, made as transparent and understandable as possible”.

With regard to tension arising around the "transfers" of communities to the OCU, the candidate for the post of head of the new State Service noted that "realistic steps must be taken”: "With regard to all procedures – it is transparency and comprehensibility of criteria, adequacy of terms of consideration. If a community has submitted proper documents, the function of the state body is to help believers realize their right to self-determination in the shortest possible time. As for court claims, this is the task of lawyers. I doubt that they can be avoided at all in the future, no matter how transparent and understandable the procedures are because we are talking not only about the self-determination of believers but also about property rights".

At the same time Bohdan stressed that thanks to the communication with priests and experts, she has "a rather panoramic picture of the reasons why legal subordination does not take place, despite the fact that the intention to change it has been declared”.

"From the ecclesiological point of view, it is not the records in legal documents or even the name at the entrance that is important, but which of the Church leaders is remembered during the liturgy – which metropolitan or patriarch. This is the essence of the Church to which a certain parish belongs. At present, a number of congregations that have changed their jurisdiction from the ecclesiological point of view have not gone through legal procedures. Among the reasons, unfortunately, are the complexity of legal procedures, financial factors, threats and physical violence. The latter can only be solved if the police and the SBU work effectively: it is the law enforcement agencies that have the power to protect citizens. State ethnopolitics in this difficult situation can help with monitoring: to organize a comfortable way of presenting information about these problems, to process and report information to law enforcement agencies. Needless to say, in a free country with the rule of law, people should not suffer from violence because of their will," Elena Bohdan concluded.

Earlier, the spokesperson for the UOC, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, called Elena Bohdan's candidacy a certain compromise.

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