The Parliament of Ukraine is preparing to pass the antichurch laws. “Our Church is in danger! By their actions, some ‘public servants’ are trying to plunge not only our Church, but our Homeland – Ukraine, into the abyss of inter-confessional war. Unfortunately, we know the history of the countries where there were such wars. And we know that they are much more horrible than non-religious wars … Using the methods of pressure on the Church, they propose to adopt new legislations aimed at its destruction” – words of despair from the lips of Metropolitan Zaporozhsky Luke who turned to the faithful.
The Parliament of Ukraine is considering a number of antichurch bills. One of these bills offers “to determine the membership of a religious community based on identity.” In other words, any representative of the Ukrainian Uniate Church can go to an Orthodox temple to declare himself its permanent member, and to expel the other parishioners as objectionable. In fact, it can be regarded as a legal seizure.
Another bill supposes the introduction of a special status for churches, “whose governing bodies are located in the country recognized by the Parliament as an aggressor” (in such a way Ukrainian lawmakers covertly designate Russia) and gives the right not to the clergy, but to the representatives of the civil authorities to appoint priests. In this way the civil authorities can remove any clergy not faithful to the authorities and appoint “their protégés”.
It is noteworthy that the Parliament’s Commissioner for human rights and the parliamentary lawyers have already spoken against these scandalous bills. They drew attention to the discriminatory nature of these drafts, as well as to the violation of the Constitution of the Ukraine and international laws ratified by Kiev.
There are three rival Orthodox Churches in Ukraine: the Unitarian Church of Filaret, a small Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and a large Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. However, only the Moscow Patriarchate is recognized as legitimate by the rest of the Orthodox world. Currently, this fully recognized Ukrainian Orthodox Church is subjected to persecutions in Ukraine. The two other Ukrainian Orthodox Churches exist separately from Moscow and openly dislike their “brothers in faith”.
Poroshenko and his team in their three years in office ‘distinguished’ themselves not only in the tragedy in Odessa, the endless political persecutions and the ongoing war in Donbas, but also in the numerous religious pogroms. Since 2014 the Orthodox churches of Ukraine have been subjected to merciless robberies, the constant pressure of “patriots” and cynical arbitrary occupation.
Last January, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, called for the cessation of persecutions of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine and a final halt of state interference in Church affairs. Lavrov reacted to the setting on fire of the temple of the Moscow Patriarchate in Odessa. At the same time in the Belgorod-Dnestrovsky Diocese three parish churches were robbed. Previously some temples and chapels were burned in different regions of Ukraine.
In addition, a campaign of persecutions of Orthodox priests evolves in full swing. In several cities, including the territories of the Kiev-controlled parts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions they are threatened with physical violence. Some of them have already become political prisoners.
This is not a wild outburst of bullies, but a direct consequence of the coup. Today the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has become the aim of persecutions. Nationalists chase the Moscow Patriarchate priests branding them “Russian spies”, “separatists” and “saboteurs”. Several priests who did not support the coup were either killed like Pavel Zhuchenko, Dean of St. Dimitry Donskoy temple in Donetsk region, or were forced to escape from punishment by flight like the head of the Missionary Department of the Kiev Diocese Archpriest Andrey Tkachev.
Most likely, the persecutions of the Orthodox in Ukraine will continue as long as Russo-phobic and extremist forces are in power. It is not secret that many of the leading figures of the regime in Kiev are followers of nontraditional religions and sects, and do not hide their dislike of Orthodoxy. First and foremost, former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has been a member of the sect of Scientology … Then, Aleksander Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine is a Baptist, an American wing. The majority of Ukrainian nationalists are Uniates, like their hero Bandera.
The current “servants of the Ukrainian people” can not accept the fact that the vast majority of citizens of Ukraine go to the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate which represent the Russian Orthodox Church. The representatives of the authorities are trying to erase the national memory from the souls of the Ukrainians. They grate on every mention of shared history and spiritual values of Orthodox Slavic peoples.