Khmelnytskyi bishop appeals to ombudsman over mass seizures of churches
Archbishop Viсtor of Khmelnytskyi and Starokostiantyniv has sent a letter to ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets in connection with the violations of UOC believers’ rights.
On May 17, 2023, the head of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy of the UOC, Archbishop Viсtor of Khmelnytskyi and Starokostiantyniv, sent a letter to the Ukrainian Parliament's ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets, as reported by the press service of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy.
The bishop drew attention to the real state of religious freedom in Ukraine in the context of continued mass violations of the rights of believers of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The appeal says that the re-registration of parishes of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy of the UOC without the will of the religious communities or in spite of such will has become illegal, awful and shameful when the Constitution and laws of Ukraine do not work if it is favourable to some officials.
Vladyka Victor informed Dmytro Lubinets about the appeal of the affected believers of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy to the Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Europe, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, the Ambassador of the European Union Mission in Ukraine, and also about two-day work of the United Nations monitoring mission for human rights in Ukraine in the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy, during which it was registered more than 30 facts of violence during the forcible takeover of the UOC churches. Such appeals of believing citizens of Ukraine are caused by complete ignorance of the law by certain representatives of the authorities at the local level.
Silencing the obvious facts about the real state of religious freedom in Ukraine further complicates the existing problems and creates a false appearance of legality in the religious field of Ukraine in the eyes of Ukrainian society and the international community.
Violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religion, enshrined at the national and international levels, with the participation of individual representatives of local authorities, goes against European and universal values, principles and norms of national and international law, and are unacceptable in a civilized society, which rejects any form of discrimination, especially on religious grounds.
On behalf of thousands of believers of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy, Archbishop Victor urged the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights to take measures to record, stop and prevent violations of the existing law, aimed against religious organizations of the UOC and Orthodox believers in the Khmelnytskyi region, in particular by monitoring visits to religious (not territorial) communities of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Vladyka also asked to stop illegal actions of some officials and deputies aimed at unlawful re-registration of religious communities of the UOC and illegal seizure of Orthodox temples and to restore constitutional and generally recognized rights of clergy and believers of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy, legal awareness of the population about the requirements of the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations" and inadmissibility of its violation.
The believers of the UOC should ensure that state authorities, local governments and their officials and officers observe and respect the rights and freedoms.
The UOC hierarch said that any form of discrimination in the exercise of rights and freedoms by clergy and believers of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is unacceptable and added that the state must effectively protect the rights of believers of the Khmelnytskyi Eparchy (UOC) who are citizens of Ukraine and patriots of their country, keeping the unity of the Ukrainian people and preventing more discord and division in war conditions.