Expert about inviting Phanar head: Isn’t this state interference?

President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Photo: Regnum

Yuri Reshetnikov gave an assessment of the situation around the invitation to Pat Bartholomew to visit Ukraine in terms of international standards and the Constitution.

If the leaders of the country invite a religious figure to state events, is this not the state's interference in church affairs? A religious expert, chairman of the State Committee for Nationalities and Religions in 2009–2019, Yuri Reshetnikov, discusses this on “Klymenko Time”, commenting on the situation around the upcoming visit of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to Ukraine.

“In the context of the separation of the Church from the state, the question of the nature of these visits and invitations to Patriarch Bartholomew arises,” the expert noted.” If this was an invitation from His Beatitude Epiphany, it is understandable that he has every right to do so, just as the believing citizens of this Church could. But if it comes from the President of Ukraine, then it is repeated by the government, deputies who clearly represent the party in power, then the question arises: what is this – isn’t this state interference in church affairs?"

In addition, he believes that this situation is nonsense from the point of view of international standards, since the head of the Phanar is a religious leader, not a head of state, and, "obviously, we cannot talk about any interstate contacts".

“Here there is an invitation to a religious figure by statesmen of Ukraine, and he is not even invited to some religious events but to a public holiday - the Independence Day of Ukraine. Obviously, a certain paradox and, frankly speaking, nonsense arises when a high religious figure is invited to state events by the leaders of our state. And the question actually is to what extent this corresponds to the Constitution of Ukraine,” resumed Yuri Reshetnikov.

As reported earlier, the human rights organization "Union of Orthodox Lawyers" expects a reaction from law enforcement agencies and detailed explanations from people's deputies in connection with the recent trip of the Ukrainian delegation to Phanar.

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