The legal department of the UOC-MP has branded as illegitimate a bill that forces the UOC-MP to sever ties with the Moscow Patriarchate.
“…we declare that the legislative initiative to ban the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is illegal, violates the right to freedom of religion and in no way contributes to ‘protection of national security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine’ and ‘protection of public safety and order,’” says a statement issued by the UOC-MP’s legal department.
On March 22, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine registered Bill 7204 “On prohibition of the Moscow Patriarchate on the territory of Ukraine,” and on March 26, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine also registered Bill 7213 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine on freedom of conscience and religious organizations ”on the prohibition of the activities of religious organizations (associations) that are part of the structure of a religious organization (association), the governing center (management) of which is located outside Ukraine in a state recognized by law as military aggressor toward Ukraine and/or in the temporarily occupied part of the territory of Ukraine.”
Given the content of legislation, the main purpose of their adoption is to protect national security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine and protect public safety and order, which according to the lawmakers, can be achieved by banning the Moscow Patriarchate – Russian Orthodox Church – UOC MP.
The Legal Department of the UOC-MP claim that the authorities seek to “deprive millions of Ukrainian citizens of the right to freedom of religion.” However, this is a fake narrative. Authorities seek to prevent Russia’s influence on religious organizations in Ukraine, including on the Russian Church in Ukraine, the so-called UOC-MP.
The UOC is convinced that the ban on Moscow’s influence on their organization implies a ban on the very activities of the UOC-MP and it “cannot but have a painful effect on our state.”
In addition, the legal department of the UOC-MP is convinced that belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate amid an ongoing full-scale war with Russia is about Ukrainian citizens exercising their right to “freedom of religion.”
Also, the legal department of the UOC-MP deliberately lied that the UOC-MP decision-making center was allegedly located in Kyiv. The truth is that the UOC-MP must comply with all decisions of the Local and Bishops’ Councils of the Moscow Patriarchate (ROC), which take place in Russia and which must be attended by some hierarchs of the UOC-MP. In addition, the subordination to the Moscow Patriarchate is evidenced by dozens of appeals by the clergy of the UOC-MP, which demand “autocephaly” and a break with the Moscow Patriarchate. Such appeals were often not supported at the higher, eparchial levels of the UOC-MP.
Paradoxically, the legal department of the UOC-MP believes that it is beneficial to the occupiers to break Russia’s influence on the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate. In particular, they write the following: “… because of the inability to win the battle, the occupiers are trying to sabotage us through such bills.” Obviously, this is a lie designed by the UOC-MP. On the contrary, it is beneficial to Moscow to maintain in Ukraine a controlled network of parishes, of which there are more than 10,000, and through them to spread the ideas of the “Russian World,” narratives of Ukraine’s unity with Russia, and other pro-Russian propaganda.
Author: Ivan Petrushchak, Master of Theology.
It should be recalled that earlier, OCU Metropolitan Oleksander called expedient and timely the law on a ban of UOC MP. He compared the ban of the UOC-MP with the ban of the Communist Party and said that the UOC-MP would have a way out of this situation – a break with Moscow, a way out of the ROC.
Religious expert Oleksandr Yefremenko also noted that the UOC-MP had severed ties with Patriarch Bartholomew, who had granted the Tomos, but not with Cyril, who had blessed the killing of Ukrainians.