Supreme Court reverses return of UOC church seized by Kyiv Patriarchate

Sretensky temple in the city of Konstantynivka, Donetsk region. Photo: Gorlovka-eparhia.com.ua.

The court satisfied the claim of the OCU, which demanded that the transfer of the UOC Sretensky church in Konstantynivka to the UOC-KP be recognized as legal.

On February 24, 2021, the Supreme Court, as part of the panel of judges of the Third Judicial Chamber of the Civil Court of Cassation, decided to overturn the decisions previously made by several courts of Ukraine on the illegal transfer of the community of the Sretensky church of the Horlivka Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Konstantynivka, Donetsk region to the so-called Kyiv Patriarchate, and subsequently to the OCU.

The published court decision recalls that during the parish meeting on April 15, 2015, at which it was allegedly decided to pass to the UOC-KP, 15 new members were given the right to vote and signed the voting protocol for the transfer. However, the court was not able to establish who exactly gave them this right to vote. Also, the protocol of voting did not contain the signature of the rector of the temple.

The main argument of the court, on which it grounds its decision – the illegality of the transfer of the community – was challenged by Metropolitan Mitrofan of Horlivka and Slaviansk, which, in the court's opinion, is not directly related to the parish. "The decision to change the canonical affiliation affects the rights of exclusively members of a religious community," the court's decision says.

Recall that on October 14, 2015, members of the then Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) seized the Sretensky church by force. The diocese went to court.

Litigation over the jurisdictional jurisdiction of the temple continued for several years. To challenge the decisions of the courts, which recognized the seizure as illegal, the UOC-KP even appealed to the Supreme Court of Ukraine. This court rejected the cassation appeal of the Kyiv Patriarchate.

On October 28, 2019, the Konstantunivka City District Court also ruled illegal the decision of the “parish assembly” to change the denomination of July 10, 2015. The respondent was the "Religious Orthodox organization ‘Holy-Sretensky Parish of the Donetsk diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Konstantynivka, Donetsk region’", the appeal of this church structure was signed by Yuriy Shapran.

As reported by the UOJ, on February 12, 2020, the Donetsk Court of Appeal in Bakhmut recognized illegal the "transition" of the Sretensky temple of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the city of Konstantynivka to the UOC-KP and OCU.

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