The Regular meeting of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations calls the authorities to listen to the voice of people
March 1, 2016. On the premises of the Metropolitan’s Residence at the “St. Sophia of Kyiv” National Preserve, the regular meeting of the All Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) was held, as the website of the DECR of the UOC (Moscow Patriarchate) reports.
With the blessing of His Beatitude Onufriy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, the meeting was attended by the Administrator of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Eminence Antoniy, Metropolitan of Boryspil and Brovary, Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (DECR UOC) Archpriest Mykolay Danylevych and also Head of the Legal Department of the UOC Archpriest Olexandr Bakhov. In addition to representatives of various denominations, the meeting was also attended by representatives of relevant state authorities of Ukraine.
Council members discussed the current situation in the country, the results of which have been adopted in the “Declaration of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations on the socio-political situation in the country “. In the Declaration, representatives of the Ukrainian confessions expressed concern about the situation in the country and called on the authorities to listen to the voice of the people and take care of the interests of the state, so as to avoid future political strife. In addition, a myriad of problems was also discussed that have accumulated in the area of church-state relations.
In particular, the Administrator of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Antoniy of Boryspil and Brovary in his speech said that people in Ukraine are increasingly despondent with regards to their faith in politicians and are seeking solace and hope in God, as evidenced by the crowded churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “This, from a human point of view, has pleasantly surprised us, especially if you take into account the tones of unimaginable informational garbage, slander and criticism that has poured onto our Church by the mass-media”, His Eminence declared. Despite all the challenges, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has always adhered to the principles of inter-religious and inter-confessional peace. However, notwithstanding this, a strong feeling persists that there is an ongoing attempt to artificially destroy the world. As an example, Metropolitan Antoniy discussed the draft bill №4128 (amendments to Article 8 of the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” (to change the religious communities’ affiliation), authored by MP, Mr. V.E. Yelenskyi, which was recently registered in the Verkhovna Rada. In His Eminence’s opinion, this bill is dangerous for both the religious community of Ukraine as a whole and for continued inter-confessional peace in our country. Since this draft legislation entitles persons who are not members of a given religious community to, via unilateral declaration, state that they are indeed part of a certain community, and thereafter can influence decisions made in the parish council of a certain religious community. In other words, this legislative initiative is an attempt to legitimize the scheme of raider seizure of churches on the legislative level. Metropolitan Antoniy also expressed concern that this legislative initiative was not previously discussed and not agreed upon by all AUCCRO members, which it directly affects.
“We are all very much aware why this law and similar regulations are being promulgated. However, we must also be aware, that the effect of these laws will be felt by all religious organizations throughout Ukraine. If today the bill is directed primarily against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, then tomorrow, with similar objectives in mind, this legislation can also be used against communities belonging to other confessions and religious organizations”, – stated the Vladyka.
In addition, Metropolitan Antoniy expressed concern that the Department on Religions and Nationalities at the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine is stalling or not even bothering to register the statutes of the dioceses, monasteries and parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. A state authority representative was, in fact, presented with the specific facts. Similar concerns were expressed by representatives from the other confessions in Ukraine. Following the discussions, it was decided to establish a working group of representatives from both the various Faiths and also competent State departments, which will discuss the said bill №4128 in detail, as well as the difficult issue concerning the registration of the Articles and Statutes of religious organizations.
During the meeting, representatives from various religious communities of Ukraine considered a number of current issues, which included proposals to celebrate this year’s 20th Anniversary of the founding of AUCCRO.