Kiev, February 21, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) said that only 36 out of its 12,000 communities in Ukraine have joined the new church of Ukraine (OCU), after the latter was granted autocephaly, and a dispute is unfolding around another 250 communities over changing their confessional identity.
"Today, the statistical data revealed quite clearly that 36 out of 12,000 religious communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [of the Moscow Patriarchate] have changed their confessional identity. Another 24 communities were forcibly reregistered and these cases will certainly be appealed in the court," head of the Information and Educational Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Archbishop Kliment (Vecherya) said at a press conference in Kiev on Thursday.
"There are about 250 situations, in which there is a standoff with the use of force, and there is a conflict. This conflict has not yet led to any results, therefore, one cannot say that these communities have changed their confessional identity," he added.
After Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew granted autocephaly to the OCU, the Moscow Patriarchate's UOC came under pressure with the use of administrative resource in efforts to make its religious communities convert to another confession, Archbishop Kliment said.
A total of 320 dioceses joined the OCU after granting the Tomos on Autocephaly, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said on February 18.