In the messages to the primates of the local Orthodox Churches, Pope Francis, the head of the Anglican community, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the General Secretary of the world Council of churches the world Council of churches O. Tveit, as well as the UN Secretary-General A. Guterres, Secretary-General of the Organization for security and cooperation in Europe T. Greminger, President of France, E. Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as heads of States “Channel four”, his Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill has paid attention to mass violations of the rights and freedoms of bishops, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reports patriarhiei.
“Recently, the intervention of the secular leaders of the Ukrainian state in Church Affairs acquired the character of a rough pressure on the bishops and clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which suggests the beginning of a full — scale persecution”, stated his Holiness.
He noted that the reason for the increase in such pressure was the refusal of the Ukrainian Orthodox bishops to participate in supported the Ukrainian leadership’s “unification Council” on which the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the largest religious denomination in the country, uniting the thirteen thousand parishes, more than two hundred monasteries and millions of believers, should be replaced by a new religious organization by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, together with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
As reported in the messages to religious leaders, heads of international organizations and heads of state, “to force the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to participate in this event, state authorities and law enforcement agencies of Ukraine had undertaken a number of actions that flagrantly violate constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens of Ukraine”.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill mentions that the bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called on “conversations” and interrogations in the security Service of Ukraine detained under various pretexts, including when crossing the state border of Ukraine, and subjected to humiliating searches. In particular, 9 December, the security Service of Ukraine banned entry to the territory of the country the citizen of Ukraine, Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk, referring to “special order from Kiev.”
The Government and local authorities attempt to deprive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church legal rights to the use of Kiev-Pechersk and Pochaev Lavra — the main Orthodox monastic communities of Ukraine, informs the addressees of the Epistles of His Holiness: “So, on 23 November. the Ministry of justice of Ukraine cancelled the decision on state registration of the monastic community for the use of the complex of buildings of the Pochayiv Lavra. And on November 28 the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has cancelled the order dated July 17, 2003 “About the expulsion from the Kremenecko-Pochayiv state historic and architectural preservation of the buildings of Pochayiv Lavra”. Representatives of the reserve do not hide that in the future possible transfer of the monastery to the use of another religious organization.” 5 Dec Kremenecko-Pochaev reserve check availability of Church property in the Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra.
Referring to the situation of Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, his Holiness mentioned that, on 28 November, for the first time in 30 years, was the test Commission of the Ministry of culture of Ukraine cultural values in this community. 30 November in the territory of the farms of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra in Voron’kiv village of Boryspil district of Kyiv region was searched, during which were committed several procedural violations of the law.
In the Epistles, emphasises that bishops and clergy are trying to bring to trial on baseless charges of “treason” and “inciting religious hatred”. In several regions of Ukraine carried out mass searches in the buildings of the diocesan offices, temples and the residence of the clergy.
Thus, on 1 December calls on interrogation in security Service of Ukraine has received a lump sum of 20 priests of the Rovno and Sarny dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv region). 3 Dec searched cathedrals, diocesan offices, churches and even private homes of priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Zhitomir, Ovruch and Korosten. December 5 was questioned by 12 clergymen of the Rovno and Sarny dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The documents indicate that the investigative actions are carried out in the framework of criminal proceedings under article 111 (“high treason”) and article 161 (“inciting religious hostility”) the Criminal code of Ukraine.
“The state media is continuing a massive campaign to discredit the Ukrainian Church. In violation of the right to private life and the prohibition on the use of personal data are published personal information about the bishops and clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the disposal of the state. In particular, personal data of a significant part of the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church published on the site “Peacemaker” together with comments that incite religious hatred”, — said his Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill, noting that this site is existing with the direct support of the Ministry of internal Affairs of Ukraine, “previously became infamous with the publication of information on Ukrainian, American and European journalists, after which they were threatened, beaten and even deprived of life.” “Despite the protests of the American and European public the “Peacemaker” has not been closed by state authorities of Ukraine and the Ministry of internal Affairs of Ukraine continues to support him”, — said His Holiness.
His Holiness also pointed to the fact that “representatives of state authorities of the highest level allow themselves public statements with respect to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, inciting inter-religious hatred.” For example, the 30th of November the Minister of internal Affairs Z. Shkiryak publicly characterized Governor Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Metropolitan Vyshgorod and Chernobyl Paul as the “vampire-hating Ukraine, Ukrainians and everything Ukrainian.” Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Parubiy also allowed himself to public slanderous and defamatory remarks against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in particular, publicly declared that the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church contributed to the murders of Ukrainian citizens.
“Hostility towards the Church does not hide the President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko, who has publicly threatened expulsion of those Ukrainians who do not wish to join created by the state “Autocephalous Church”,” — reminded the Patriarch.
He also mentioned a revealing fact: “the invitation to the “unification Council,” signed by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church received from the hands of government officials despite the provisions of the Constitution that “the Church and religious organizations in Ukraine are separated from the state” (Constitution of Ukraine, article 35) and, consequently, any interference of the state in international relations is unconstitutional.”
“We don’t know what are the next steps of the Ukrainian authorities, on what other violations of basic and inalienable rights of man and citizen they can be solved to achieve this task, remaining until the presidential election time, writes his Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill. — But already had been numerous facts of discrimination of the Ukrainian Church give reason to fear even greater infringement of the rights and legitimate interests of Orthodox believers, multiplying their suffering for fidelity to canonical Orthodoxy.”
As noted by His Holiness, the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the meeting of 7 December had konstatirovat “baseless criminal prosecution” on the part of public authorities and carried out by “pressure on the episcopate, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to force them to take part in the so-called unification Council”. The Synod rightly concluded that such actions are “a violation of constitutional rights of Ukrainian citizens to freedom of religion”.
“In our eyes is a gross interference of state authorities of Ukraine in the life of the Church, basic human rights are violated, including the fundamental right to freedom of conscience, is an obvious attempt to use the Church to achieve political goals and electoral struggle,” testified the Patriarch.
He appealed to religious and state leaders, leaders of intergovernmental organizations to make every effort to protect the bishops, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from discrimination and pressure from the Ukrainian authorities to uphold international law freedom of conscience and religion.