Lawyer: Those unrelated to Church take decisions on changing denomination

Lawyer Lesia Alexandridi. Photo: screenshot of the video, YouTube channel “1Kozak”

Lesia Alexandridi claims that people, who decide which denomination a particular church will belong, derive information about the Church from the media.

The authorities of Ukraine authorized citizens who have nothing to do with the Church to change a confessional affiliation of the community, says lawyer Lesia Alexandridi in Yan Taksiur’s program “Right to Belief” on the air of “First Cossack”.

Ensuring the so-called freedom of expression of all believing citizens through holding general meetings in practice has turned into meetings of residents of territorial rather than religious communities, organized by local administrations, the lawyer said. These village gatherings are attended by everyone whom the local administration may attract to this event: activists, state employees, and members of paramilitary groups.

“For the most part, these are people who are not related to religious life, who understand and draw information about the Church from the media. The authorities granted the right to these people to make decisions on their confessional affiliation. Moreover, they were explained that these issues have to do with the national security of the country,” the expert emphasized.

In her opinion, those who participated in meetings of territorial communities often did not understand what and where they were transferring, because the names of religious communities were indicated in the minutes incorrectly. Even worse is the situation with the names of religious centers: “transfers from the UOC to the UOC, from the UOC to the UAOC, different versions of the newly created religious structure (OCU – Ed.), absolutely incomprehensible abbreviations.”

Lesia Alexandridi is especially surprised by the position of those wishing to change jurisdictions, who were formerly parishioners of the UOC community: “A priest who served in the parish for 20 years, who baptized, performed marriage ceremonies, buried, gave the Eucharist, whose hands were kissed only yesterday, turns into a “Kremlin agent” overnight, literally organizing, supporting, and sponsoring some military actions."

As the lawyer said, the regulatory framework for substituting the concepts of a religious community meeting with that of a territorial community was laid by Viktor Yelensky in 2015, when he introduced the concept of person’s self-identification with the community.

According to Yelensky, two-thirds of believers, whose decision will determine the denomination, will be calculated by the number of legitimate members of the community. But in the statutes of the UOC, one of the mandatory criteria for membership in the community is recognition of the UOC jurisdiction and the statute of the community. Accordingly, everyone who does not accept the UOC, led by Metropolitan Onuphry, as their religious center cannot belong to a religious community and even less can make decisions about its activities. In addition, there is no fixed membership in the UOC religious communities, which means it is simply impossible to legally determine two-thirds of an unknown number in the legal order.

As reported by the UOJ, the authorities and the police decided to transfer the UOC temple in Susval to the active members of the OCU despite the fact that the re-registration of the community is still pending in court.

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