German theologian: DESS expertise on UOC is biased and misrepresents facts

20 September 20:38
Dr. Thomas Bremer. Photo: Dr. Thomas Bremer. Photo:

Professor of WWU Münster Thomas Bremer assessed the DESS-initiated “expertise” of the Statute of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in terms of its relation with the ROC.

The conclusions of the “religious examination” of the Charter on the governance of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, carried out by the State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience, cannot be considered a proof of the ecclesiastical-canonical connection of the UOC with the Moscow Patriarchate. This conclusion was reached by the famous Catholic theologian, Professor Emeritus at the University of Münster (Germany), Dr. Thomas Bremer, reports the Public Union “Myriany”.

At the request the “Myriany”, the scholar analyzed the report of the “expert commission” created by the Ukrainian State Service fro Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience, which was intended to establish whether the UOC the presence or absence of dependence of  on the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to Dr. Bremer, he was asked to evaluate the report because he has been dealing with Ukrainian church affairs for many years, published extensively on this issue, and as a Roman Catholic theologian from Germany, he does not belong to any of the parties involved.

The professor notes that in the Charter of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church after the Council of 2022 there is no mention of its affiliation with the Russian Orthodox Church, and according to the decisions of the Council, the status of the UOC is defined as “self-reliant and independent”.

According to him, the fact that the UOC does not use “autocephaly” or “autonomy” to define its status, it cannot be a basis for restricting freedom of religion in a democratic society.

The theologian points out that the “experts” of the DESS, when studying the current status of the UOC, should not have taken into account documents published before the Council in Feofania, nor should they have referred to the documentation of the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to Dr. Bremer, the “expert commission” of a state institution, having no authority thereto, "names concrete demands of what the UOC should have done for becoming autocephalous" such as "clarifying its relationship to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine", which seems to be a "direct violation of freedom of religion". It cannot be the task of a state institution to prescribe how a religious community must organize itself.

The German professor also notes that “experts” of the State Ethnic Policy interpret the Phanar’s only correct position regarding the method of obtaining autocephaly, although in the Orthodox world there are different opinions on this matter. In addition, they groundlessly claim that for the state to recognize the independence of the Church, it needs a special tomos.

Bremer also writes, “Logically, the Commission has to research the evidence at its disposal and to come to a conclusion. It cannot deal with possibilities, hypothetical assumptions, potential actions, and non-facts—which it, however, does,” Bremer writes.

He notes that the DESS ignored the request of the UOC for a different composition of the DESS expert commission for a more balanced evaluation of the UOC Statute, since the commission included primarily the individuals who proved a hostile attitude towards this denomination. In this regard, the professor does not exclude that the report “was written under violation of Ukrainian law.”

“The REC (Report of the Expert Commission – Ed.) has significant flaws and shortcomings in both the methodological and the factual respects. It takes into account facts which speak in favor for the outcome and neglects the others. It is biased in its evaluation and misrepresents given facts. It presents no positive evidence of any kind that the UOC still belongs to the ROC. Therefore, the REC cannot be regarded as a proof, and its results are not convincing,” concluded Professor Bremer.

As the UOJ reported, the Kyiv Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church appealed in court the “religious examination” of the Charter on the governance of the UOC, conducted by the State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience.

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