Congress of believers of seized UOC churches appeals to government bodies
Representatives of the communities of the seized churches of the UOC called on the authorities to abolish anti-church laws and stop the persecution.
Participants of the congress of representatives of the communities of the seized churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as believers who oppose the attempts of raiding by the OCU and the UGCC, adopted an appeal to the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky, Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Dmitry Razumkov and the deputy inter-factional association “For Confessional Peace in Ukraine ”, which called for the use of the powers granted to them by legislation to abolish anti-church laws and end the persecution of the UOC.
At the congress held at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on February 22, 2021, with the participation of 350 representatives of the persecuted communities of the UOC, they stated that they were already losing hope for the Ukrainian authorities to ensure the observance of the rights to freedom of religion. The reason for this is the new legislation adopted by the Verkhovna Rada regarding religious organizations, which intensifies the division in society, provokes sectarian confrontation and religious enmity. It goes about the Laws of Ukraine No. 2673-VIII and No. 2662-VIII, which have already been called anti-church, but in fact – directed exclusively against the UOC and violating both the Constitution of Ukraine and international conventions and pacts.
The appeal indicates the use of these laws by the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine exclusively against the UOC: “Religious communities of the UOC have found themselves in an unequal position in comparison with other religious organizations in Ukraine. Forced re-registration, change of the name of religious organizations (associations) and subordination in canonical matters is a direct interference with freedom of religion."
In this regard, the participants of the congress of the persecuted communities of the UOC call on the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Rada and the deputies to submit a bill to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as a legislative initiative that will cancel the anti-church laws of Ukraine No. 2673-VIII and No. 2662-VIII.
Separately, Prime Minister Shmyhal is called upon to introduce moratoriums on any registration actions to change confessional affiliation and forced renaming of religious communities of the UOC until the anti-church laws are cancelled.
The deputies of the inter-factional association "For Confessional Peace in Ukraine" are asked to apply to the relevant state authorities, local authorities, their officials, heads of enterprises, institutions and organizations with a demand to stop the lawlessness against believers.
“We are addressing you on behalf of those believers of our Church, who were seriously injured during the seizure of churches: their heads were punctured, their arms were broken, and they were beaten. We also appeal to you on behalf of many clergymen who are constantly being unjustifiably summoned for interrogation to law enforcement agencies and humiliated in every possible way,” says the believers’ statement. “We are addressing you on behalf of ordinary people from all over Ukraine, whose churches, where their grandfathers and great-grandfathers went to, have been taken away or face raiding attempts made in a forcible or fraudulent manner (through illegal re-registration of parish statutes in regional state administrations).”
As reported, on February 21, 2021, a congress of representatives of the communities of the seized temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as the believers who oppose raiding attempts by the OCU and the UGCC, took place at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.