Police open criminal proceedings against Zaporizhzhia bishop of UOC

10 August 15:42
Metropolitan Luke (Kovalenko) of Zaporizhzhia and Melitopol. Photo: pravlife.org Metropolitan Luke (Kovalenko) of Zaporizhzhia and Melitopol. Photo: pravlife.org

Law enforcers charge Metropolitan Luke with "incitement of religious enmity and hatred."

The police opened criminal proceedings against Metropolitan Luke, head of the Zaporizhzhiz Eparchy of the UOC, under article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (deliberate actions aimed at inciting religious enmity and hatred). The bishop announced this in a video message recorded after his interrogation.

He noted that the case was initiated on the basis of the findings of a linguistic examination of his statements.

“I was shown an expert philological opinion,” the metropolitan said. “Maybe this person is well versed in philology, but he is completely unaware of issues of theology, the canons of the Church, ecclesiology, the life of the Church. For example, I am accused of using the phrase ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’."

According to Vladyka, the investigator asked questions about his attitude to the Tomos of Autocephaly granted to the OCU by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as his attitude personally to Epifaniy Dumenko.

“How can I treat the Tomos if only four Churches out of 16 have recognized it for now? This is the fullness of the Church, the vast majority. How do I feel about the head of the structure that received this Tomos? Just like the plentitude of the Church, with the exception of the four Greek Churches that recognize him,” said the archpastor.

In addition, during the interrogation, the bishop was asked about the purpose of creating his Telegram channel Lekar.zp.

“The channel was created with only one purpose: to protect my Mother Church, to convey to each of you the word of truth so that the sin that causes the eternal murder of the soul does not touch your heart. This is my duty, I am obliged to do this as a pastor of the Church,” Vladyka noted.

He emphasized that in fact he did not offend anyone and did not incite hatred.

“I don't offend anyone. Show me at least one of my insulting words – in contrast to those words addressed at me, at my Mother Church and Her faithful. I condemn sin, but I do not condemn man. Man, whatever he may be, is the image of God, but this image can be distorted by sin. Therefore, I have to speak up, I have no right to remain silent. Christ calls everyone to love, and I call for love, not for hatred. I call for the salvation of our priceless immortal souls,” the Metropolitan said.

He also urged all Orthodox Christians to remain faithful to their Church.

Earlier, the UOJ reported that Metropolitan Luke was summoned for questioning by the police.

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