Kiev, December 14, Interfax - The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) fears that its episcopate will be forced to attend the so-called unification gathering this Saturday.
"Remember I said that UOC bishops would be delivered to the gathering by the 'security'? Well, today the Security Service branch for the Vinnitsa Region is dragging Metropolitan Agapit (Bevtsik) of Mogilev-Podolsky and Shargorod to Kiev," the UOC's chief lawyer Archpriest Alexander Bakhov wrote on his Facebook page.
The officers collected him from a house in Chernovtsy Region where he was visiting, and drove him to the capital. "The official theory: for a conversation with the president!" the priest said.
The security service branch in Vinnitsa has dismissed this information.
"Officers from the Vinnitsa branch of the Ukrainian Security Service did not travel to Chernovtsy Region, let alone detain anyone," the branch's spokesperson Irina Alexeyeva told the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper.
It was reported that the Ukrainian authorities, with support from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, were planning to hold a "unification gathering" in Kiev on December 15 to create a church independent from the Moscow Patriarchate. The canonical UOC has refused to participate in the project from the start. Recently the Security Service carried out searches at its dioceses and gave its clerics "a talking to" which was perceived by the Church as an attempt to force them to attend the meeting.