Debate about banning Ukrainian church goes on


Eastern Europe


Ukrainian servicemen searching Orthodox premises in the western city of Lviv. The Orthodox church that is connected with the Moscow Patriarchate is under suspicion supporting the Russian ideology. Photo AFP, Yuriy Dyachyshyn

The debate about a possible ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) has put the church issue at the centre of the attention. There is still doubt whether forbidding the church is legal.

The police searched new churches and monasteries in the diocese of Romensky (east of Kyiv) on Wednesday. There, the security service found "warehouses with pro-Kremlin literature" in which the existence of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are denied. That is reported by the Orthodox Journalists.

The Ukrainian Metropolitan Onuphry presented his annual 2022 report of the Kyiv diocese on Wednesday. He stated that 41 of the 400 parishes in the Kyiv region changed from the UOC to the new OCU (Orthodox Church in Ukraine). There is pressure from city councils on parishes to switch to the other church. The UOC is, on paper, connected to the Patriarchate in Moscow and is, for that reason, suspected to be susceptible to Russian political influence.

Metropolitan Onuphry. Photo UOC

The debate about local churches creates a lot of tension, Onuphry said in his report. He spoke about attacks on churches. Het repeated that the UOC had dissociated entirely from the Moscow Patriarchate.

Gross violation

In the meantime, there is much discussion about the legal chance of a ban. The human rights activist Victoria Kokhanovskaya said a ban would be a gross violation of Constitutional religious liberty. That is a "blow against every citizen of the country", she says, according to the Orthodox Journalists. "No one can force someone to profess this or that faith", she said.

According to her, a ban "brutally violates the obligations of Ukraine."



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