UOC: Thesis about "voluntary transitions" does not correspond to reality

31 May 2021 18:34
The temple in the village of Zadubriivka, illegally re-registered to the OCU. Photo: pravlife.org The temple in the village of Zadubriivka, illegally re-registered to the OCU. Photo: pravlife.org

The fact of mass violations of human rights that accompany the raider seizures of communities is obvious and does not require any special inquiry, the UOC noted.

The disseminated thesis about the existence of "voluntary transitions" of communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to another denomination does not correspond to reality and is a continuation of the strategy of raider seizures of communities and churches of the UOC, says the statement of the Representation of the UOC to European International Organizations on the position of the Church in the context of international law and OSCE standards, published on the website of the UOC Information and Education Department on May 31.

The Representative Office of the UOC indicated that a number of representatives of state structures of different levels, religious leaders, as well as the media continue to spread the thesis that the UOC communities change their canonical jurisdiction voluntarily.

“Giving an assessment to these false claims, it has to be noted that nearly 500 churches of our confession have been seized or illegally re-registered since 2015. During the seizures of the temples, for example, in Zadubrivka, Katerynivka, Ptycha, lots of grave crimes were committed, which took a sever toll on the UOC believers. Furthermore, the number of public testimonies and appeals of believers on such grievous offenses is so numerous that the fact of en masse human rights violations associated with church raiding does not require any special inquiry."

At present, the Representative Office of the UOC clarified the church raiding scheme applied to UOC temples and currently implemented in Ukraine occurs both via direct seizure without any supporting documentation and through illegal re-registration of the community in favor of "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" (hereinafter referred to as the "OCU") by virtue of regional state administrations’ orders. In the latter case, registration actions are carried out based on a decision of persons who are not part of the governing bodies of a re-registered community, but who are either residents of a territorial community or outsiders.

"The documentary forgery under this scheme foresees the submission to the state body of the minutes of a parish assembly meeting on the transfer of the community to another confession, signed by persons who in fact have no legal right to sign anything. This false protocol, regrettably, is adopted by the regional state administration for implementation (re-registration) without proper insight and without taking into account the rights and interests of the actual UOC community, which further leads to confrontations around the church. In this situation, the believers of the UOC, who actually lose control over the legal entity, have to prove in court a personal composition of the members of their assembly, separating them from the fake, forged one."

The Representative Office of the UOC stated that the promotion of this scheme is based on the fact that the residents of a particular locality have a firm conviction that only they, but not members of a specific UOC community, have the right to decide on their affiliation with a particular denomination. The idea that the right to change denominations belongs to residents of a territorial community was reinforced by MPs and top-ranking officials, who lay the groundwork for raider seizures of UOC churches in society, as well as among nationalist organizations. 

“In view of this, a widespread thesis about the existence of "voluntary transitions" of UOC communities to another confession is out of touch with reality and a part of the church raiding strategy," the statement says.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that the UOC made an official statement to the international community.

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