The decision of the government of Ukraine on transfer of the complex of buildings of the Pochayiv monastery in Ternopil region, Kremenets-Pochayiv reserve may eventually become the most negative Chapter in Church-state relations. Such opinion on Wednesday in an interview with TASS was expressed by the head of the Synodal information Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Archbishop Kliment.
“Pochaiv monastery throughout its long history has never been a Museum in the monastery has always lived the monks, and even under Soviet rule, the persecutors had failed to expel and evict the monks and to take this building. Therefore, any new attempts and threats for the existence of the monastery cause perplexity”, he said. The representative of the UOC-MP stressed that “the Lord has always preserved the monastery, under cover of the mother of God, the monks performed their worship, and all who tried to encroach on the monastery, was punished by the Lord.”
The Archbishop hopes that this “lawlessness” will not happen, otherwise “it will be the negative page in Church-state relations.” According to him, the preconditions for such negative developments there. “In the context of all that is happening in the country, and in the context of pressure exerted on the clergy, for bishops, for our believers, we can expect any of the junctions of this situation”, – believes the President of the UOC. In particular, he noted that “the leadership of the Pochaev Lavra has already announced that all lawyers, attorneys, registrars, working with the monastery, was under pressure, obstructing their professional activities, and the Registrar who carried out legitimate actions (on re-registration of Church buildings – approx. TASS), has access to state registry”.
Archbishop Clement assured that the UOC is taking the necessary legal actions to resolve problems. According to him, “the current situation requires a legal assessment of the fact of state interference in Church Affairs.”
The situation around the monastery
Earlier Wednesday, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine passed a complex of buildings of the Pochayiv monastery in Ternopil region, which belonged to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the Kremenets-Pochayiv reserve.
The complex of Church buildings was transferred to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 2003 on the initiative of Viktor Yanukovych, who was at that time Prime Minister of the country. 15 Nov 2018 police in Ternopil region opened a criminal case on suspicion in illegal transfer of a number of structures laurels in the use of the UOC. Later, the Ministry of justice of Ukraine has cancelled the official registration of Church buildings, ostensibly because of “violations of the requirements of the law.” In the UOC, said that the decision of justice does not deprive the Church the right to use the monasteries, emphasizing that the actions of the authorities can lead to the destruction of monasticism in the West.
In turn, the Russian Orthodox Church expressed concern about the possible beginning of persecution against the clergy and regular clergy of the canonical Church, and an increasing confrontation within the country.