Astana, October 10, Interfax - The Ukrainian authorities' endorsement of seizures of Orthodox churches around the country would provoke mass protests, Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, said.
"Of course, we already see that Orthodox churches are being taken over in Ukraine, and the flock is standing up to defend them. We can only imagine what will happen if these seizures are officially endorsed by the authorities and if they become systematic. Of course, people will take to the streets and will defend their holy places," the metropolitan told reporters in Astana when asked whether the Russian Orthodox Church is calling on its flock to defend churches from encroachment.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a self-governed part of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion said.
"It possesses all fullness of administrative and financial independence, it does not report to the Moscow Patriarchate in any way. It is a Church that unites most Orthodox Christians of Ukraine, despite the false statistics that some media outlets are now using and that, unfortunately, Patriarch [of Constantinople] Bartholomew trusted," he said.