Home page News
Primate of Ukrainian Orthodox Church, addressing U…

Primate of Ukrainian Orthodox Church, addressing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko: This is not the path that will lead to unity

On 21 March 2019, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine, took part in a meeting of the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations. The meeting was organized on the initiative of the state leader.

Accompanying His Beatitude were Metropolitan Antony of Borispol and Brovary, chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, vice-chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

In his address Mr. Petro Poroshenko noted the necessity to uphold principles of religious freedom. “As President, as guarantor of constitutional rights I will do all I can to defend the religious freedom in Ukraine. The religious freedom should be an object of our joint activities,” he said and added that “violence can never be a means of problem solving.”

Taking the floor, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine thanked the head of the state for the meeting and said the following:

“In this blessed season of Lent the Church calls for repentance, self-restraint, prayer and reconciliation with our neighbours. The task of the Church is to take care of things spiritual, moral, to lead people to God, to preach love, forgiveness and peace. The task of the state is to take care of the material dimension of human life, to enforce laws, etc.

“However, during this Lenten season, as well as during a long period preceding it, in our country such developments have been taking place in the religious sphere that grieve us. I mean seizures of church buildings, interference of government officials in church affairs and other offences.

“In particular, heads of village councils, city councils and administrations, as well as deputies convene meetings of territorial communities and initiate unlawful votes to change subordination of a religious community. It directly contradicts the law of Ukraine No.2683 (bill No. 4128-d) that says that only a religious community, not a territorial one, can do that with a two-thirds majority. As a result, our church buildings are being forcibly seized, our communities are being driven out. Our communities are forced to gather for prayer at houses in village. For instance, our communities gather for worship at houses in the Volyn region: in the villages of Nichegovka, Krasnovolya, Telchi and Godomichi (Manevichi district); in the villages of Zhidichin, Klepachi, Berestyanoye and Kulchin (Lutsk district); and in Berestechko, Peski, Zvinyache and Skobelka (Gorokhov district). Even for the Volyn region this is not the comprehensive data. There are many such cases in various regions. Often the police does nothing – just passively observes.

“I want to emphasize that it is not we who seize our churches, it is not our communities that cut off locks of their own churches, as mass media sometimes allege. People, alien to the Church and not churchgoers, come and do that.

“One of the recent outrageous incidents occurred in Baranovka town, Zhitomir region, where on the Forgiveness Sunday a deputy of the Radical Party, Oleg Kovalsky, convened “veche” and sent some 400 people to seize the Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. As the result, the crowd poured into the church. Some 150 parishioners who were inside were beaten up, thrown down the church stairs and pushed out beyond the church fence.

“And for such illegal actions, for inciting interreligious enmity, for trying to seize church buildings none of the officials is held responsible. Instead, a priest of our Church who defends our churches and upholds the rule of law (I mean Archpriest Viktor Zemlyanoy from the Rovno diocese) has come under pressure: criminal proceedings have been brought against him. He is said to be suspected of breaching articles No. 161 (part 1) and No. 300 (part 1). All the accusations are artificial. Besides, attempts are being made to impose a pre-trial restraint on him. As we have known, pressure is being put on our priest by the order of Vasily Bedriya, head of the administration of the Security Service of Ukraine for the Rovno region.

“Similar criminal proceedings have been opened in other regions of Ukraine as well. We regard them as corrupt ones, as a means of placing pressure on the clergy and faithful of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and deem such persecution in a democratic society inadmissible and violating the right to the freedom of religion.

“The mass media are being spreading false information about the transfer of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s religious communities (some 450 parishes). However, according to our data, only 42 parishes decided to move to the OCU, and nine of them did it without their priest. The rest 55 of the so-called “voluntary transfers” were in fact seizures, with locks cut off and believers beaten up. One hundred and thirty-seven cases were registered, when a territorial community voted for the transfer to the OCU against the will of a religious community. In such cases our faithful with their priests stay and gather for worship in their churches, while local authorities report that the “transfer” of the community has taken place.

“Facts of threats and intimidation of clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, of pressure being exerted on them, as well as of discrimination and other violations of the rights and freedoms of our Church have already drawn attention of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and published in his report of 12 March 2019.

“All that is now going on in villages in various regions of Ukraine has a negative impact on the authority of governing bodies and on the authority of the President.

“Therefore I would ask you, Pyotr Alexeyevich, to give instructions to local officials to stop artificially initiating changes in subordination. It will put an end to conflicts between people.

“It is my conviction that all the developments affecting our Church and the Orthodox Christians in general are not the path which we should follow. It is surely not the path that will lead us to unity. It is necessary to admit the fallacy of this path, to learn from mistakes and seek other ways of church unity. Seizures and “dragging” of parishes only throw the process of unity back, to what it was decades ago. We already endured the same in the early 1990s. Therefore, if we cannot completely rectify the situation, we should at least start with not aggravating it.

“Mr. President, I want you to get me right. We, that is our Ukrainian Orthodox Church, are pro-Ukraine, we are supporters of an integral and unified state, tranquility, peace, mutual understanding and unity between our people. We have always defended and declared it. All that I mentioned above only harms the state. Make sure that it stops. I believe that it is within your power!”

In response to the address of the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Mr. Poroshenko said that neither he nor any district state administration gave instructions at a local level concerning transfers of churches from one confession to another. The head of the state advised to file lawsuits in the aforementioned cases and proposed to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry to hold a separate meeting to discuss these critical issues.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry handed over to the President a list of seized churches and a document describing other offences against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The state leader charged his assistants to examine the situation and take measures in each specific case.

When the official part was over, Mr. Poroshenko held a brief personal meeting with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the Information and Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reports, citing the UOC DECR website.

DECR Communication Service

Condolences of Patriarch Kirill over the death of believers in the fire that broke out in Abu-Seifein Church in Cairo


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with the ambassador of Jordan to Russia


On the Day of the Baptism of Rus’, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill celebrates Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Moscow Kremlin


Patriarch Kirill meets with clergymen of the Diocese of Singapore and students from Indonesia


Meeting of the Commission on the status of the Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuiania


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill answered questions from participants in the Ninth Faith and Word festival


Tripartite meeting held by religious leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill's congratulations to the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America on his namesake day


Condolences of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on the death of people as a result of fire at a hospital in Constanța (Romania)


Congratulations from Patriarch Kirill to Patriarch Daniel of Romania on anniversary of his enthronement


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill presents church awards to DECR chairman and his vice-chairmen


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: Patriarch Bartholomew has lapsed into schism


Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church convenes for second day of work


Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church completes first day of session


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill presides at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church


The DECR Chairman expressed his condolences over the tragedy in the church of Abu-Seifein in Cairo


Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk meets with Pope Francis of Rome


DECR Chairman meets with Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States


Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk congratulated the Primate of the Albanian Orthodox Church on the 30th anniversary of his enthronement


On the Day of the Baptism of Rus’, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill celebrates Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Moscow Kremlin


Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk heads liturgy at Moscow representation of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch


Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk meets with Consul of Lebanon in Moscow


DECR chairman meets with Argentinian ambassador to the Russian Federation


Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk presents Patriarchal award to Russian ambassador to China


Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk celebrates Liturgy at Moscow Metochion of the Serbian Orthodox Church


DECR Chairman meets with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs


DECR chairman meets with representative of Kirche in Not foundation


Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Anthony celebrates Liturgy on the patronal feast day of the Church of Saint John the Baptist ‘na Presne’


Meeting of the Commission on the status of the Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuiania


Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk meets with Apostolic Nuncio to France


Metropolitan Hilarion: Many things in a person's life depend on faith


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Holy Spirit is the main treasure of the Christian soul


Metropolitan Hilarion: Holiness is a constant striving to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ


Metropolitan Hilarion: God does not want to condemn, but to save us


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord always grants to us the opportunity to display our talents


Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has imbued the waters of Jordan with his divine presence to wash away human sins


Metropolitan Hilarion: to repent means to change your way of life


On commemoration day of St. Catherine, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk officiated at the Church of St. Catherine the Great Martyr In-the-Fields  the representation of the Orthodox Church in America


Metropolitan Hilarion: We can always show compassion for people


Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates on commemoration day of St. Varlaam of Khutyn at the church of ‘Joy to All the Afflicted’ icon of the Mother of God


Metropolitan Hilarion: We should remember that the life of each human being is in the hands of God


Metropolitan Hilarion: For God there is nothing impossible


Metropoplitan Hilarion: The cross which was an instrument of dishonourable execution becomes the symbol of salvation for millions of people


Metropolitan Hilarion: Eucharist is the wedding feast, to which Lord Jesus Christ invites each of us


Metropolitan Hilarion: Faith alone is not enough for salvation


Page is available in the following languages

Fields marked by * are mandatory required

Send a message
Рус Укр Eng Deu Ελλ Fra Ita Бълг ქარ Срп Rom عرب