Flouting the Constitution and laws, Ukraine unleashed a war for church property and Orthodox churches

January 6 marks three years since the Orthodox Church of Ukraine received the Tomos at the Phanar-the residence of Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul. With the advent of this structure, the persecution of the UOC sharply increased. At the same time, the number of cases related to the seizure of churches, illegal redistribution of church property and parishes has increased.

«БЕС-«Lawless» in the law»

Shrines of the canonical UOC are being taken away under the guise of an anti-church law adopted during the reign of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Petro Poroshenko. This document defines the mechanism for changing the subordination of religious communities – by replacing the charter and re-registering in favor of the OCU.

Such actions are carried out on the basis of the decision of people who are not parishioners of the church, but outsiders. Forged documents are passed to local state administrations, using fictitious minutes of the parish meeting about the community’s conversion to another denomination. Local officials often participate in this «lawlessness»: they turn a blind eye to the rights of real communities of the UOC, which leads to further confrontations on religious grounds.

As the sad statistics show, over the past three years, about 500 cases related to raider seizures of churches have been recorded. These alarming figures were presented at the Kiev Pechersk Lavra during a round table entitled «Three Years of attempts to forcibly rename the Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Consequences, Assessments, Prospects».

According to the participants of this meeting (held in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra), the «Poroshenkovsky» law contradicts a number of normative acts: starting from the Constitution of Ukraine and ending with international legal documents, in particular, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as well as the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

«The law provides for state intervention in the sphere of freedom of religion violates the principles of separation of religious organizations from the state, equality before the law, equality of citizens regardless of their religious beliefs, avoidance of any advantages or limitations of the same religion, denomination or religious organization against the other», – said the participants of the round table in the adopted outcome document.

The Constitutional Court of Ukraine, which in 2020 began considering the case on the proposal of 49 People’s Deputies, should also have its say. However, due to the confrontation between the judges of the Constitutional Court and President Zelensky, this issue was postponed «for later».

Themis against arbitrariness

Under Ukrainian law, the Church is separated from the state: officials have no right to force the UOC to change its name. Therefore, the servants of Themis must restore the rule of law, protect the rights of believers and put an end to the church issue, which has already been repeatedly considered in the courts of various instances.

Back in April 2019, the District Administrative Court of Kiev decided: to recognize the actions of AndreyParubiy the then speaker of the Verkhovna Rada as illegal, who illegally lobbied for the processes related to the introduction of amendments to the law «On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations». As it turned out, this «Poroshenko man» acted contrary to the requirements of the parliamentary regulations: he put the anti — church bill to a second vote in order to achieve the pre-planned result in such an illegal way-to forcibly rename the UOC to the «ROCU» («Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine»).

It should be noted that on December 11, 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed the complaint of the Ministry of Culture on changing the name of the UOC. Considering the appeal, the judges agreed with the position of previous instances on the prohibition to perform any registration actions in relation to numerous parishes, monasteries and churches of the UOC.

«Registration authorities are prohibited from any actions to enter information in the Unified State Register about the Kiev Metropolitanate of the UOC and its structural religious organizations to resolve this dispute on its merits. Reject the appeal in cassation. The decision is not subject to appeal,» the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

As the analysis shows, the higher court did not agree with the arguments of the officials The Ministry of Culture also upheld two decisions – the District Administrative Court (dated April 22, 2019) and the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal (dated July 22, 2019).

The Supreme Court’s decision clearly states: «The Kiev Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a central executive and administrative church body (religious administrative center) independent and independent in its structure and administration of the UOC, which manages diocesan administrations, parishes, monasteries, theological schools, fraternities and other religious organizations of the UOC

Accepted»under tomos»

«Poroshenkovsky» the law was adopted with complete disregard for the position of the legal body of the Verkhovna Rada-the Main Scientific and Expert Department( MSED), whose representatives opposed anti-church innovations. In their conclusions, they pointed out that the law does not meet the requirements of the Constitution.

«Taking into account the above, there are grounds to believe that the provisions of the draft law contain signs of non-compliance with the Constitution of Ukraine, which excludes the possibility of establishing special requirements regarding the name and content of the charters (regulations) of individual religious organizations (associations) and restrictions on the access of their clergy to units, formations of the Armed Forces and other military formations of Ukraine. After all, according to the content of Part 1 of Article 35 of the Basic Law, a person has the right to profess any religion, » the Doctor of Law VasiliyBordenyuk noted in his conclusion. (who headed the State University of Economics in 2006-2017).

According to the expert opinion, any religious community has the right to submit to any religious centers that operate not only in Ukraine, but also abroad. At the same time, even notifying state bodies about the creation of such a religious organization is not mandatory. As stated in the conclusions of the MSED, registration of religious organizations provides, first of all, for the registration of their charters, and only for obtaining the legal capacity of a legal entity, and not for legalizing their activities on the territory of Ukraine. In this regard, the question of establishing the obligation to rename a religious organization (whose governing center is not located in Ukraine) looks absurd in itself.

What made those in power organize an anti-church conspiracy and pass an unconstitutional law? The secret becomes clear if you pay attention to the games, which were attended not only by politically concerned deputies and high-ranking officials, but also by representatives of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople (OCofC). Both sides were engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations even when the future law was only a draft: it was registered in the parliament after the members of the Verkhovna Rada voted for an appeal to the head of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, Patriarch Bartholomew.

Active lobbying for this draft law began in the winter of 2018, when representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church arrived in Ukraine.On December 15, 2018, the so – called «unification council» was held in Kiev, which was attended by representatives of two structures that are not recognized in world Orthodoxy-the UOC-KP and the UAOC. They joined the OCU and proclaimed Sergei Dumenko Metropolitan Epiphanius (who soon broke pots with his spiritual father, Patriarch Filaret). In turn, the Verkhovna Rada, under pressure from Petro Poroshenko, hastily «gave birth» to a new law: deputies spent less than half an hour discussing it. Such «efficiency» led to the fact that this document immediately «passed» three readings and was adopted «as a whole».

Having received a signal from Hrushevsky and Bankova, the «Archbishop of New Rome» immediately signed a tomos-an autocephalous decree for»The Holy Church of Ukraine». Since then, despite its secular status, the state continues to interfere rudely in the affairs of the canonical UOC and the Kiev Metropolia, headed by the Metropolitan Onufriy.

At Washington’s behest

To issue the tomos, Bartholomew performed a «miracle of miracles»: by his decree, he «deleted» 332 years (!) from church history – he canceled the decision of 1686 on the transfer of the Kiev Metropolitanate to the Moscow Patriarchate. What guided the Phanar when it abolished historical documents issued by the Patriarch of Constantinople  Dionysius IV?

The canonical territory of the late 17th-century Kiev Archdiocese is not analogous to the modern canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is much larger than it was three centuries ago. Today, the UOC has a lot of dioceses that were in no way connected with either the Phanar or the Kiev Metropolitanate of the 1686 model.

By colluding with Ukrainian politicians, Bartholomew took a very strange step: he began to reconsider modern reality, taking into account the fact that something once existed somewhere. Such things are violations not only of church life, but also of secular life. Imagine, for example, that the current French authorities suddenly decided to «cancel» the Paris Peace Treaty of 1763 and claim their lost rights to Canada as a former colony… If in worldly life such «miracles» turn into war, then in spiritual life they lead to a war over church property.

Perhaps you don’t need to be an outstanding theologian to understand that Patriarch Bartholomew started a dangerous game, guided not by canonical rules, but by political considerations dictated from overseas. The world schism of Orthodoxy is beneficial to the Americans, who use the Phanar against the Russian Orthodox Church, and the OCU, led by Epiphanius, against the UOC.

After the appearance of the coveted Tomos in Washington, they immediately demanded that the Local Orthodox Churches support the decision of Patriarch Bartholomew. Let’s recall how in November 2019, the US Ambassador to Greece, Jeffrey Pyatt personally met with the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Hieronymus, so that he would recognize the OCU. In addition, «caring» representatives of the United States have already created a fund named after Patriarch Bartholomew, which is designed to ensure the financial future of the spiritual leader of the long – defunct city of Constantinople.

Through behind-the-scenes intrigues

Acting on the instructions of the United States, Patriarch Bartholomew joined the activities of schismatic groups in Ukraine. And this, alas, is not the first fact in history. Attempts to interfere in the life of our Church were made at the beginning of the XX century: then the Phanar tried to legitimize the schismatics-renovationists supported by the Bolsheviks. Unfortunately, history repeats itself.

The OCU is under the special care of Washington. A vivid confirmation of this conclusion was the May visit of the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken: while in Kiev, he personally met with Epiphanius to discuss the transition of communities of the canonical UOC to the «OCU». After that, a new wave of attempts to seize churches of the canonical Church swept through Ukraine.

After that, should we be surprised by Epiphanius ‘ pleasantries that it is possible to cancel fasting for the sake of New Year’s festivities and celebrate Christmas 13 days earlier than usual, i.e. on December 25 — according to the Gregorian calendar? By the way, this statement of the head of the OCU echoes the position of the nationalist BogdanaPankevich (head of the Ukrainian Galician Party) — who became famous in a scandalous video with the final slogan: «Christmas in peace is a vaccine against the «Russian world».

Unfortunately, such tricks are in demand among individual believers. Fortunately, the situation allows: the majority of the Ukrainian people are baptized, but not enlightened. There are too many people today who call themselves Orthodox, but do not have basic concepts about Orthodoxy itself.

As a result, we are witnessing the substitution of political structures for the Church of Christ. All these criminal acts show a disregard for earthly laws, not to mention Christian and spiritual norms and values.

Valentin Kovalsky, klymenko-time

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