Metropolitan Filaret calls UOC ban in Lviv criminal and illegal
Metropolitan Filaret of Lviv and Galicia said the UOC ban by the Lviv authorities violates the provisions of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Ukraine's laws.
On June 30, 2022, the deputies of the Lviv City Council passed an illegal decision to ban the activity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the territory of the Lviv city territorial community. Metropolitan Filaret of Lviv and Galicia commented on this decision. The text of the Bishop's message is published on the website of the Lviv diocese.
Metropolitan Filaret recalled Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, which states: " Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Thus, freedom of thought, conscience and religion is part of the fundamental rights recognised by the United Nations, stressed Metropolitan Filaret.
In Ukraine, Vladyka added, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine and in the Law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations".
"We believe that the deputies of the Lviv City Council, taking a decision to ban the activities of the Church, violate the law, act contrary to international law, the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law of Ukraine ‘On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations’, which is unacceptable," stressed the hierarch of the UOC. He called the decision of the Lviv City Council "a direct interference in the affairs of the Church" and added that "such illegal decisions of the local authorities are taken in the absence of any legal basis”.
The hierarch explained that according to Article 19 of the Constitution of Ukraine, state authorities, local governments and their officials must act only on the basis and within the authority prescribed by the Constitution and Laws of Ukraine. According to subp. 9 of p. 1 of Art. 8 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Regime of Martial Law", local governments under martial law can only ban political parties and public associations in the manner and means determined by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. They have no authority to ban activities of religious organisations because termination of activities of a religious organisation can be decided only by a court if there are relevant grounds – as it is written in Article 16 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations”.
Metropolitan Filaret stressed that the current legislation of Ukraine and even the martial law do not give the local authorities the right to prohibit the activity of religious organisations. "We declare that such decisions are criminal, null and void and knowingly illegal. As a consequence, they become the cause of the internal weakening of our state in conditions of war and a significant obstacle to achieving peace in Ukraine, which we all strive for and for which blood is shed," the hierarch concluded.