Reps of UOC persecuted communities appeal to President and Local Churches
Participants of the Congress of persecuted UOC communities demanded that Zelensky stop discriminating against Ukrainian citizens on religious grounds.
On February 22, 2021, participants of the Congress of representatives of the seized temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church "Faithful" recorded a video message to the President of Ukraine with a request to protect their rights and also addressed the Local Orthodox Churches with an appeal for prayer and support.
Priest Sergei Gladun from Katerynivka, Ternopil region, said how during the seizure of the UOC temple by schismatics, believers were beaten, robbed and insulted: “This is inconceivable in the 21st century. We are hated for our Orthodox faith. They seize temples, break down doors and take away our shrines.”
He noted that since 2014, there have been more than a hundred cases of seizures of churches, often accompanied by physical violence against UOC believers.
“Next to me are people from 12 regions of Ukraine. And each of them – with a history of pain, sorrow and sacrifice for their Orthodox faith. There are thousands of people like us,” said the priest.
He stressed that the anti-church policy was actively supported by the former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, and the majority of Ukrainian believers hoped that the new President Zelensky, for whom they voted, would stop the lawlessness against the UOC and protect the rights of millions of Orthodox Ukrainians. “But this has not happened yet,” said Father Sergiy.
Representatives of other religious communities, which also suffered from the seizures of churches by representatives of the OCU, said that they expect President Zelensky to protect "the constitutional rights of every Ukrainian and Greek, Russian and Hungarian", expect him not "to have the right and wrong Ukrainians".
The believers appealed to the head of state with a demand "to stop discrimination against citizens of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to abolish the law that changes the name of our Church".
“Dear Vladimir Alexandrovich, you can change everything, restore respect for the Constitution of Ukraine, restore peace in Ukraine, show that human rights are above all,” reads the appeal to Zelensky.
Representatives of the seized churches of the UOC also asked for prayers and support from the Local Churches in different languages: Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Georgian, and Serbian.
“We also ask for support and prayers from the neighbouring Local Orthodox Churches in our fair struggle against those who hate their neighbour, who seize our temples, raise their hands against believers, priests and shrines!” the believers addressed the Local Churches with an appeal "not to support the legalization of the Ukrainian schism."
“We are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. We are in our home. This is our Church and our land,” the Orthodox Ukrainians reminded and concluded their appeal with the words “Christ is Risen!” in different languages.