25 September 2018, 18:09
Ukrainian Orthodox Church Synod calls on Verkhovnaya Rada not to pass laws aimed at canonical Church (updated)
Moscow, September 25, Interfax - At a session on Tuesday, the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called on the country's parliament to drop "unconstitutional bills" it is now considering.
These are Bill 4128, which would amend the subordination of religious communities, Bill 4511, which envisages a special status for religious organizations, and Bill 5309, which concerns the renaming of religious organizations, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's press service said.
These legislative initiatives "are aimed at the judicial elimination of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church through their illegal seizure by means of change of name, unlawful interference with governing bodies, and asset grabbing (sacred objects, temples, and monasteries)," the Synod said in its resolution.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a religious association registered and acting in compliance with Ukrainian laws, and any acts of coercion aimed at forcing it to change its name are unlawful and constitute interference in the church's internal affairs, it said.
The Synod also warned the advocates of these bills that if they are adopted, the bills will divide people and make millions of Ukrainian citizens feel like strangers in their own country.
As reported earlier, Bill 4511 implies granting a special status to religious organizations "whose governing centers are in [the jurisdiction of] the state recognized by the Verkhovnaya Rada as an aggressor state." The UOC has said repeatedly that it regards the document as discriminatory and as jeopardizing its communities in Ukraine.
Bill 4128 states that church members have the right to change their organization's charter with a simple majority, which the UOC believes will result in legalizing illegal takeovers of its temples aimed at putting them under the control of the self-proclaimed "Kiev Patriarchate."
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Russian politicians and diplomats, Orthodox Churches based in other parts of the world, and the Vatican have criticized the bills.