UOC bishop: Ukraine mustn’t be state where people’re stabbed in the street
Bishop Victor believes that in Ukraine there is a very high level of anger in society and aggression towards the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
On January 17, 2021, the head of the Representation of the UOC to European international organizations, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka, in his blog on the pages of the "Korrespondent" edition, commented on the attacks on Orthodox priests in Zaporizhzhia.
Vladyka Victor recalled that "a few days ago the well-known international human rights organization ‘Open Doors’ published a list of countries with the highest level of persecution of Christians in its annual report "World Watch List".
The bishop noted that Ukraine was not included in this list of countries. However, according to him, "the alarming tendencies observed in our society indicate that this situation may change in the future".
“First of all, this is about a constant increase in the level of aggression against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its believers,” writes the hierarch.
Vladyka emphasized that “many times, at various levels, we have declared discrimination against our believers, physical violence against them, numerous seizures of UOC churches, as well as unconstitutional laws promoted by the Ukrainian authorities”, and “only in recent months we have become witnesses of the beating of a UOC priest in Kyiv, the confrontation in Mikhalcha and Zadubrivka, the events in Zolochiv, completely inexplicable from the point of view of the elementary concept of democracy ”.
“Of the latter, armed attacks (literally two days apart) on Archpriest Vladimir Gumeniuk and Deacon Georgy Cherpakov in Zaporizhzhia, as well as an act of vandalism against the photographs of our Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, are of particular concern,” Vladyka wrote.
According to him, “the stab in the head of Father Vladimir and the attempt to stab Deacon Georgy with a knife testifies to an unprecedented level of anger in Ukrainian society. And in this context, it is important not only the fact that the priests of the UOC were attacked but the fact that any of us could be in their place”.
“It is clear that security cannot be guaranteed unless steps are taken to prevent crime. In other words, the task of the authorities is to maximize the reduction of the level of aggression in society, which means that they can use legal methods to respond to any manifestations of hatred and anger, including acts of vandalism. And for this you do not need to come up with any special means, it is enough to execute the main law of the state – the Constitution,” emphasized Bishop Victor.
But Vladyka believes, “unfortunately, lately in Ukraine we have witnessed the opposite too often. The state power allowed itself to unceremoniously interfere in the affairs of the Church, to define the "right" and "wrong" Churches, to give preference to some and discredit others. In a democratic European society, towards which Ukraine is striving, this should not be."
“That is why, reading the reports of international human rights organizations on the persecution of Christians, it is time for us to think about not including Ukraine in them.
There is only one way to achieve this – to live according to the Gospel, to learn to respect each other, to exclude the hatred rhetoric at all levels and fulfil the Constitution. And then our dear Ukraine will become a prosperous state, and not a country where a person can be stabbed in the head with a knife in the street ...,” wrote the bishop.
As reported earlier, Bishop Victor named the number of illegally seized churches and parishes of the UOC.