Lawyer speaks of criminal liability for organizing transfers to OCU

04 August 16:48
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Lawyer speaks of criminal liability for organizing transfers to OCU

The lawyer said which CCU articles are violated by organizers of meetings of territorial communities, at which residents vote for “transferring” UOC parishes to the OCU.

Referring to the case study of the “transfer” of the Assumption church of the UOC to the OCU in the city of Skvyra, Bila Tserkva diocese, lawyer Alexander Krasovitsky told what articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine fall under the actions of officials, who organized a meeting at a music school and gathered there local residents, who are not parishioners of the temple. He posted his comment on YouTube.

Krasovitsky noted that on July 28, 2022, officials in Skvyra did not have the authority to arrange a vote on the transfer of the religious community of the Assumption church of the UOC to the OCU.

“From the point of view of Ukrainian legislation, such actions are not only illegal, but also fall under certain articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine,” the lawyer said. He told what the procedure for the legal change of church jurisdiction should be.

Article 8 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” states (paragraph 2): “Membership in a religious community is based on the principles of free expression of will, as well as on the requirements of the charter (regulations) of a religious community. The religious community, at its own discretion, accepts new and excludes existing members of the community in the manner prescribed by its charter (regulation).”

The lawyer explained: this means that in order to be considered a member of a religious organization, one must comply with the requirements of this organization, and if a person comes to the church once a year to “sanctify” Easter cakes, then he/she cannot be considered a member of the parish.

Paragraph 4 of Article 8 states: “The decision to change the subordination and make appropriate changes or additions to the charter is taken by at least two-thirds of the number of members of the religious community necessary to recognize the general meeting of the religious community as authorized in accordance with the charter (regulation) of the religious community.”

Krasovitsky cited the Charter of the Assumption church of the UOC in Skvyra, where part 9 says: “The parish assembly gathers from Orthodox believers who have reached the age of 18, recognize the obligation of the Charter of the UOC, regularly attend services and confession, are in canonical obedience to the rector and are not under prohibition and ecclesiastical judgment, which hinders full participation in liturgical life.” As for the meeting of the parish, the Statute says: “The parish meeting is convened by the rector, the parish council or the dean at least once a year with the blessing of the bishop.”

The lawyer emphasized that meetings in houses of culture and other places of public use, convened by officials and not provided for by the Charter of the UOC, are contrary to Article 8 of the legislation of Ukraine. The only legal way, according to the jurist, is when the meeting is convened by the rector or parish council.

Krasovitsky also commented on the amendments to the Charter of the religious community.

According to Part 38 of the Charter, “Changes and additions to this charter, as well as corrections and additions to the Agreement on the Use of Premises, may be accepted by the parish only with the blessing of the diocesan bishop.”

This means, according to the lawyer, that in order for the parish to come under the jurisdiction of, for example, the OCU, it is necessary to make changes to the Charter, and these changes require the consent and approval of the diocesan bishop. The officials, who organize meetings on the “transfer” of temples from the UOC to the OCU, definitely do not have such approval.

Earlier, the UOJ cited the opinion of lawyers regarding the statement of the mayor of Kosiv about the deportation of believers of the UOC.

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