Destruction of the Church as Yelensky’s response to “Letter of the UOC”
A letter was written to the head of the DESS, proving that the authorities’ claims against the UOC are far-fetched. How did the authorities react to it?
On August 17, 2023, an open letter to the head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy Viktor Нуlensky appeared on the "Dialog.tut" website. In this letter, clear and structured responses were provided to all the government's claims against the UOC. In their commentary on this "Letter," the UOJ suggested that if there is no change in the church policy of the authorities after reading it, certain conclusions can be drawn.
A response from Viktor Elensky and Ukrainian officials was not long in coming – the UOC received it very quickly, not in words but in actions.
Let's highlight the main theses of the letter from "Dialog.tut" to Viktor Ylensky:
- The head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy was reminded (and through him, one can assume, other Ukrainian officials) that the UOC, at the level of official documents and statements of the clergy, has repeatedly emphasized its patriotism – condemning the war in Ukraine, calling for the defense of the country and its statehood, and actively assisting the defenders of the Motherland.
- It was reasonably explained to Yelensky that for Ukrainian believers, the issue of the sanctity of the Sacraments and worship is more important than the self-proclamation of autocephaly.
- Yelensky was reminded that in a civilized society, there is individual, rather than collective responsibility, and the struggle against the UOC as a whole is a struggle against the unity of the country.
Ukrainian politicians often claim that Ukraine is a free and democratic country, that the authorities listen to their citizens and respond to society's demands. Therefore, some response to the "Dialog.tut" letter could have been expected. Given the complex relationship between the Church and the government, it could be assumed that Yelensky's response would come eventually. After all, silence in this situation would be a blow to the image of "openness" and "democracy" of Ukrainian authorities.
And Viktor Elensky did respond.
A wave of raids as a response from Yelensky
Let us remind you that the letter “Dialog.tut” was published on August 17.
On August 20, in the suburb of Kamyanets-Podilsky, in the village of Dovzhok, officials and representatives of the city council attempted to storm the temple in honor of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary – it is from this temple that a cross procession to Pochayiv has been taking place every year for almost 200 years.
On August 21, activists from the OCU gathered a crowd of employees of budgetary institutions in Cherkasy to take control of the church in honor of St. Sophronius of Irkutsk in the Dakhnovka district.
On August 23, at the direction of the head of the Poltava Regional State Administration, the UOC community in Lokhvytsia was re-registered in favor of the OCU based on the decisions of an illegal assembly.
On August 25, the "bishop" of Khmelnytsky received officials from Kamyanets-Podilsky under the guise of a religious community of the UOC in Dovzhok.
On September 2, activists of the OCU, Greek Catholics, and representatives of other denominations attempted to storm the Holy Spirit church in the village of Luh in Zakarpattia.
On September 2, 2023, representatives of the OCU took over the St. Nicholas church in Shpola, Cherkasy region.
On September 4, local authorities in Kamin-Kashyrsky illegally re-registered the Nativity of the Virgin Mary community while its rector was delivering humanitarian aid to the combat zone.
On September 5, 2023, a cleric of the OCU, Vitaliy Matiyashchuk, cut locks and broke into the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God church in the Bortnychi district of Kyiv.
On September 6, 2023, in Vyshhorod, chaplains of the OCU and UGCC, with the support of the police and territorial defense, used hydraulic shears to seize the Borisoglebsky church.
On September 6, 2023, during the curfew in Myronivka, Kyiv region, raiders, led by an OCU "priest," with a grinder and sledgehammer, seized the UOC church.
On September 7, in the village of Khotiv near Kyiv, supporters of the OCU organized a meeting of local residents who "decided" to transfer the St. Alexander Nevsky parish to the organization of Dumenko.
On September 9, 2023, in the city of Radomyshl, Zhytomyr region, representatives of the OCU, led by “priest” Vasiyl Kolishchak, staged a provocation with an attack on the clergy of the St. Nicholas Church of the UOC, as a result of which the authorities sealed the temple.
On September 9, 2023, in Radomyshl, Zhytomyr region, representatives of the OCU attacked and beat wounded soldiers and UOC believers.
Viktor Elensky's response to the UOC: "We will not allow you to exist"
As we can see, the "response" from Viktor Elensky to the open letter from UOC believers became increasingly harsh – the wave of church takeovers became more powerful and cynical. Moreover, for the first time, re-registration and seizures occurred in Kyiv (Bortnychi).
Furthermore, supporters of the OCU were not merely allowed to capture churches but were also aided in doing so. In addition to the seizures and attempted seizures of churches, during the same period, there were restrictions on access to the Lavra for students and faculty of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary, a ban on the UOC cross procession movement through Ternopil Oblast, and the initiation of legal proceedings against Metropolitan Vissarion of Ovruch and Metropolitan Longin of Bancheny.
However, in addition to the "response through action," Viktor Elensky also responded with words.
On September 1, 2023, in an interview with the well-known American publication Politico, Elensky stated the following about the UOC: "We should not allow these structures to operate in Ukraine."
In other words, the head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy made it clear to us all with these words: The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is being persecuted not because it is not patriotic enough, not because it has not fully separated from the ROC, not because it lacks a "Ukrainian spirit," and certainly not because of the "Russian world" or "Kremlin narratives." The Church is being persecuted solely because it is the Church.
We need to understand that we are not dealing with religious people but with individuals who adhere to an atheistic worldview, in simpler terms – atheists. For them, all our arguments are not persuasive enough simply because what they want is not arguments but the cessation of our existence. Imagine that you are a lamb in the clutches of a hungry wolf. Can you convince the wolf that you are not tasty enough or not plump enough? Even if you howl like a wolf and bare your teeth, the wolf will still eat you simply because you are a lamb, and it is a wolf that wants to eat. And in its eyes, this argument is the most convincing.
That's why we believe that the assumption that "the UOC is being persecuted for absolutely baseless reasons" is no longer an assumption but a fact. No matter how much we try to persuade those in power, they will not be appeased until we are outside the Church.
We would very much like to be proven wrong when we stated that everything happening to our believers is "a plan to destroy not only the UOC but all of Ukraine." Unfortunately, even in this case, certain representatives of the Ukrainian government are doing everything to dispel our doubts – they truly do not need a strong and united Ukraine.
Why? Because people who sow discord among Ukrainians are unlikely to intend to live here. And it's doubtful that they expect their children to live here either.