ROC hierarch: If power puts pressure on UOC, millions will take to streets

Archbishop Leonid (Gorbachev). Photo:

Archbishop Leonid believes that the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are courageous and pious people, true confessors.

On April 25, 2021, Archbishop Leonid of Vladikavkaz and Alan of the Russian Orthodox Church, Deputy Chairman of the ROC Central Executive Committee, told the Greek newspaper Δημοκρατική that if the Ukrainian authorities put pressure on the UOC, millions of believers would take to the streets, Romfea reported.

The hierarch of the Russian Church reminded that laws discriminating against the UOC have not been repealed in Ukraine yet. "Moreover," the bishop said, "the ruling party has introduced a number of new bills, one of which, for example, allows the President and the National Security Council of Ukraine to dissolve any religious organization with vague political charges and confiscate its property."

At the same time, Archbishop Leonid stressed that "it is impossible to dissolve the country's largest denomination by a political decision."

"The resilience shown by the religious people of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is shocking. These brave and pious people are real confessors. There are almost no cases of fighting or retaliation when a temple is seized” and “communities that have lost their temples and are disenfranchised do not disappear, but still often pray and perform services at home, sometimes in rural areas. Many of them are already building new temples,” the bishop told Greek journalists.

Archbishop Leonid noted that the believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church take an active civil position and intend to defend their Church within the law.

"In just a few days, a million signatures were collected against the new discriminatory bills, which were passed directly to the president's office. I believe that in the event of increased pressure from the authorities, the result will be the same as in Montenegro: millions of Orthodox will take to the streets," the ROC bishop concluded.

He reminded that the ROC "was forced to sever the communion with the Church of Constantinople, according to ecclesiastic rules." However, says the hierarch, “We do not lose hope that communication between our Churches will be restored. But for this to ensue, Patriarch Bartholomew must refrain from actions that are not just a violation of the rules, but a denial of Orthodox ecclesiology itself."

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that according to Archbishop Leonid, it was not the Russian Church that severed ties with Phanar, but Phanar – with the UOC.

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