2017-05-19 16:06:00

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denies that ambassador summoned to Vatican regarding church bills

Kiev, May 19, Interfax - The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has denied reports that the Ukrainian ambassador was summoned to the Vatican to provide explanations on the bills relating to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

"I have contacted our ambassador to the Vatican. The situation is as follows: there was no summons. A number of working meetings took place in the state secretariat of the Vatican last week to discuss various foreign and domestic policy issues, including the bills," Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official Maryana Betsa told Interfax.

Betsa said there was no criticism of the bills. "There was no criticism as such, there was just an exchange of opinions," she said.

Some media earlier published a statement by Archpriest Nikolay Danilevich, deputy chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, stating that Ukrainian Ambassador to the Vatican Tatyana Izhevskaya had been summoned to an audience regarding the possible adoption of bills governing state and church relations in the country.

Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradyuk of the Kharkov and Zaporozhye Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, earlier criticized the said laws, which the Rada expected to debate on Thursday, but the debate was eventually postponed.

Bill 4511 gives special status to religious organizations "whose administrative centers are located in a state recognized by the Verkhovnaya Rada as an aggressor state." The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has repeatedly said it sees this document as discriminatory and jeopardizing its communities on the territory of Ukraine.

Bill 4128 gives people belonging to a church community the right to change its charter by voting by simple majority, which the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate believes will lead to the legalization of raiding takeovers of its churches and their transfer to the self-proclaimed "Kiev Patriarchate".