OCU or church: Khmelnytskyi authorities put UOC communities before a choice

Sts. Adrian and Natalia’s Chapel. Photo: UOJ

Khmelnytskyi authorities threaten the UOC community to destroy its chapel if it does not move to the OCU. The parish has also been refused permission to build a church

The Khmelnytskyy authorities have put the UOC community before a choice: either they move to the OCU or they will be put out on the street.

Archpriest Oleksandr Kostenko, the rector of the Faith-Hope-Love community, told the UOJ that the land for the construction of a temple in the Ozerna district of the community was allocated back in 2012, which is confirmed by the State Act on the Right to Use the Land Plot. Then, the believers built a temporary St. Adrian and Natalia’s chapel without a foundation. When they decided to build a permanent church building, the changed authorities in Khmelnytskyi started to put all sorts of obstacles.

In 2018, the community won a court ordering the Khmelnytskyi City Council Department of Architecture and Urban Planning to consider the parish's application to begin construction of the church. But this did not change anything.

After the war began, the city authorities put the community before a choice – either defect to the OCU and build a new church or dismantle the chapel where they now pray.

"Either go to the OCU or get out, we will ruin everything here and take the land," the rector cited Maryna Viner, deputy head of the Office for Architectural and Construction Control of the City Council, as saying.

According to the rector, his congregation has affirmed its faithfulness to the UOC led by His Beatitude Onuphry and is categorically against the transfer, but the authorities are not interested.

"They bring us 'OCU' documents for construction, they say there is no UOC registration as such in Khmelnytskyi, all churches are already in the OCU," says Fr. Oleksandr. “So far, this is unofficially, but gradually all churches will be taken over, documenting that they have all been "transferred". They say that our temple will also be transferred to the OCU, so don't even bother. And I don't know how to communicate with them, how to survive in this situation. We were planning to build a large temple, but now there is such a situation that we don't know how to save our chapel.

As earlier reported, Khmelnytskyi mayor Oleksandr Symchyshyn is preparing decisions to terminate the right for land use to religious organizations run by the UOC.

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