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Faithful in Zhytomyr region stand in prayer p…

Faithful in Zhytomyr region stand in prayer protesting against illegal transfer of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church community to OCU

DECR Communication Service, 30.05.2022. 

On May 29, in the village of Popelnya, Zhytomyr region, the faithful have been standing in prayer protesting against the illegal transfer of the community of St. Nicholas’ church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to OCU, the Union of Orthodox Journalists reports with reference to the press service of the Zhitomir diocese.

The parishioners of the church in Popelnya have been ardently praying for several hours straight.

The diocese reports that thanks to the resistance of parishioners it was possible to avoid a conflict with an initiative group which organized the signatures collection for the community’s transfer to the OCU.

The parishioners belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the OCU supporters agreed to clear the territory of the church. The police and representatives of the territorial defense unit stayed to stand guard over the church building.

The signatures collection was initiated by Vasily Zarechny, a local resident. He called on Archpriest Pyotr Lis, rector of the church, to transfer to the OCU.

The rector told the faithful that it was impossible to change the Church as it is impossible to change mother and wife.

“This is the Church of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Our native Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the only one true canonical Orthodox Church in our land,” he said.

The day before the standing in prayer, the cars with loudspeakers were running along the village. The local people were called to come to the church and put their signatures for the transfer to the OCU. Some locals who responded to the call said they had not understood for what they came to vote. Among the signers there were former parishioners of the church and people who called themselves non-believers and even Buddhists.

The diocese asks how these people who have nothing in common with this church can seal its fate.

“It is interesting to note that contrary to the standard practice of signatures collection, exact residence address was not put next to the signer’s name. Therefore it was impossible to ascertain the identity of the large part of those advocating for the transfer to the OCU,” the diocese points out and adds that issues pertaining to church life must be resolved exclusively by religious community.

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