UOC hierarch names 5 major events in the life of the Church in 2021
Bishop Victor of Baryshivka spoke about the most important events of the outgoing year in the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The hierarch of the UOC named five landmark events of the outgoing year in the life of the Church. In an interview with the Greek outlet, Bishop Victor of Baryshivka noted that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church carries out its ministry in very difficult circumstances, reports News-Politics. The clergy and laity are continually exposed to aggression from certain representatives of the Ukrainian political community and the media, as well as from those who consider themselves members of the OCU.
1. Great Cross Procession in Kyiv.
The most significant event of 2021, according to Bishop Victor, is the Great Religious Procession in Kyiv in the middle of summer, which gathered 350 thousand people.
“It’s noteworthy that it was held amid the pandemic, which theoretically means that even more people could have participated in it. Why is it important? First of all, it testifies to our people having great faith in God. Secondly, the majority of Ukrainian believers belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the hierarch emphasized.
2. Creation of the Public Union "Miriane".
The Bishop of Baryshivka commented on the importance of the creation of the public union "Miriane". He noted that the believers are tired of being "the silent majority." They realized that the Church now needs protection and support.
“As you know, anti-church laws have been adopted in Ukraine, which now make our life complicated, since certain officials perform illegal re-registration of UOC communities, using this legislation for raider seizures of our churches,” the clergyman recalled.
The hierarch said that the "Miriane" oppose these illegal actions with the law and the Constitution of the country.
“Our Church is made up of people, who are also citizens of Ukraine and have not only responsibilities, but also rights. The “Miriane” recalls that Ukrainian authorities must ensure the fulfillment of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. At the moment, there are regional offices of this movement practically in every region of Ukraine, which unites all believers who care about the fate of our Church,” the bishop said.
He compared the "Miriane" with the Orthodox brotherhoods that operated in the territory of modern Ukraine in the 16th-17th centuries during the expansion of Catholicism in the country. The task of the organization is legal protection of the interests of believers, awareness-raising, missionary work, protection of churches against seizures, assistance in the construction of new temples.
“The ‘Miriane’ are faithful people of the Church who strive to preserve the Orthodox identity of our nation,” the hierarch summed up.
3. Decision of the UN Human Rights Committee (UN HRC) on Ukraine.
Bishop Victor recalled that the decision of the UN Committee was adopted on November 11, 2021. It undelines the failure of the State of Ukraine to fulfill its international obligations and expresses concern about reports of violations of the rights of believers in the UOC.
In light of numerous reports of threats and violence from the OCU toward the faithful of the UOC, the Committee called on Ukraine to provide the effective exercise of freedom of religion and belief, including by ensuring the protection of churches against violence and threats, as well as to ensure prompt investigation of the facts of violence and punishment for them.
“Despite the officially neutral position of the central government and the ongoing developments in the state, we are still put under pressure. True though, it takes on different forms – from banal insults and physical violence to the blockade of representatives of the UOC at all levels – depending on the region,” the bishop said.
4. Prayers in defense of the UOC.
The hierarch recalled that the prayer standing on June 15, 2021 was notably large-scale, since more than 20 thousand believers of the UOC went to the Verkhovna Rada and then headed to the President's Office to submit their own bill on the abolition of anti-church laws. He also mentioned another sizeable standing near the Vinnytsia Regional State Administration, the reason for which was the illegal and secret re-registration of UOC communities in favor of the OCU.
5. International Conference "Catholicity of the Church: Theological, Canonical and Historical Dimensions."
The fifth significant event, according to Bishop Victor, was the International Conference "Catholicity of the Church: Theological, Canonical and Historical Dimensions". It was held at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra on November 11, 2021. The event was attended by representatives of seven Local Orthodox Churches.
Bishop Victor noted that “the main topic of the conference was an attempt to give a canonical response to the non-canonical actions of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in Ukraine." He emphasized that the "Phanar's new doctrine on the exceptional position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarch in Ecumenical Orthodoxy, which is being promoted by Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, other theologians and hierarchs of the Church of Constantinople and a number of other Greek-speaking Churches, will lead to unintended consequences for the whole of Orthodoxy.”
The hierarch is sure that the further fate of Universal Orthodoxy depends to a certain extent on the developments in Ukraine.
Earlier, the UOJ wrote that the Synod of the UOC has identified the landmark events of 2021.