Moscow, February 26, Interfax - The Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate has called on the Ukrainian authorities to cease the persecution of members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
"We call on the Ukrainian authorities to cease persecuting their own citizens, who are unwilling to join the schism," according to the Synod's statement made following its session in Moscow on Tuesday.
Additionally, the Synod urged fraternal local Orthodox Churches to express support via prayers to "the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is being persecuted," and called on the international community to pay attention to "the outrageous facts of human rights violations" and give due evaluation to "the Ukrainian state's gross interference with the Church's affairs."
The Synod considered the Ukrainian issue "in a specific order," Vladimir Legoyda, the head of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, told journalists.
"It is becoming increasingly obvious that representatives of the incumbent [Ukrainian] authorities aim at the abolition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," the Synod said, adding that the local governments and law enforcement agencies of Ukraine were recommended to facilitate as much as possible the transition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's communities "into the schism."
Threats of depriving the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its major monasteries and historical relics, namely the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and the Pochayev Lavra, have been made and in the majority of cases the seizure of churches of the religious communities happens contrary to their decisions to stay in the canonical church, the Holy Synod said.
"The ongoing unlawful acts have resulted in an upsurge of violence against the clergy and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Despite the assurances of the Ukrainian leadership and the Patriarchate of Constantinople that the so-called 'unification of Ukrainian Orthodoxy' has a peaceful nature, dozens of churches have been seized through break-in with support of armed units, accompanied by repeated facts of beatings of the clergy and believers of the canonic Church trying to defend their relics," it said.