22 Feb 2019 21:40

UOC bishop calls on Ukrainian PM to put end to church takeovers

KYIV. Feb 22 (Interfax) - Bishop Viktor (Kotsaba), vicar of the Kyiv Metropolitanate, has drawn the attention of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to the encroachments on the right of the flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church amid the creation of the new church.

"The hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have to go through increased control and questioning when they go abroad and return from abroad. Almost every day we get information on takeovers by strangers of churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in favor of a different confession. Such actions are accompanied by clashes and conflicts, and in some situations beatings of our believers," Bishop Viktor said during a meeting between Groysman and members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations on Friday.

"The faith where respect and love are replaced with hatred in hearts, foul language and an angle grinder in people's hands is not the kind of faith that Christ brought to this earth," the bishop said.

As a law-governed and democratic state, Ukraine took the course towards European integration and assumed an obligation to observe not only basic human rights, but also European principles, which include autonomy of religious organizations, he said.

"However, today's situation shows that active interference by bodies of state authority in the internal life of the Church, unfortunately, violates not only this principle, but also the Constitution of Ukraine, the national and international legislation," the bishop said.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has always been and will be constructive and open to any cooperation that is good of Ukraine and its people, he said.