The clergy of the Ukranian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) has been called for a “private” conversation with the Securite Bureau of Ukraine to discuss the possibilities to have alternating worship services with representatives of the newly formed religious organization in the church that the activists of the latter organisation has been failing to seize since February 17, 2019.
March 1, 2019 – The Security Bureau of Ukraine (SBU) has had a “private” conversation with the dean of Yasenia district, priest Vitaliy Kemin, about the tense situation around the Most Holy Theotokos’ Church in Yasenia, and, in the adjacent room, with the rector of the latter church, priest Alexander Gasparovich, reports the Legal Department of the Ukranian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) , and mentions the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
“This morning, at 7:50, they called me from the Security Bureau of Ukraine and said that they were inviting me to a conversation,” said father Vitaly. “When I asked if this was an official invitation, they answered that the conversation was private. They also advised not to take a lawyer, as they want to to have a tete-a-tete talk.” The priest immediately warned the SBU officers: once the conversation is unofficial, he will not sign any papers, and the content of the conversation will be reported to the head of the diocese and the Synodal Legal Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)[note]The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) is an autonomous Orthodox Church with the headquarter in Kiev, Ukraine. It is spiritually and canonically linked with the Russian Orthodox Church.[/note].
First of all the SBU officers asked whether the clergy would agree to alternate worship services with the employees of the OCU[note]Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a religious organization that was formed with an aid of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine and with non-canonical actions of the Constantinople Patriarchate at the end of 2018. So far, none of the canonical Orthodox Churches has recognised this organization as an Orthodox Church.[/note]. Then followed more general questions, such as: why the Ukranian Orthodox 2 Church (Moscow Patriarchate) clergy consider the new church structure non-canonical? Whether they, personally, would transfer to the OCU? According to the dean, “they (the SBU officers – ed.) showed exceptional knowledge in church affairs”. The priest also shared the fact that OCU activists had exerted pressure on him by threatening and trying to bribe him. “In response, they (the SBU officers – ed.) only kept silent,” said the priest. The whole conversation lasted for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
According to the Legal Department, activists of the OCU have been trying to seize the Most Holy Theotokos’ Church in Yasenia village since February 17, 2019, but the parishioners and the clergy gave them a decisive rebuff. Despite, the Local administration support for the activists, unauthorized meetings, fake protocols, false coverage of the situation in the media, police inaction during the seizure of the church attempt, as well as beating women by activists, the believers manage to defend their rights and prevent attackers from seizing the church.
- The Legal Department of Ukranian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) – “”The SBU held a conversation with the priests of the Khust Diocese, who refuse to go to the OCU”
- Union of Orthodox Journalists – SBU officers “have a talk” with clerics of the Khust Eparchy of UOC
○ Feb. 18, 2019 – The police unreasonably detained Metropolitan Mitrofan a day after his eparchy declared its loyalty to the canonical Church and its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
○ Feb. 14, 2019 – The citizen of Ukraine, Bishop Gedeon has been deprived of his citizenship and deported to the United States, on the day of his participation in the session at the Supreme Court of Ukraine questioning the legitimacy of a Parliament’s directive with respect to a religious issue.