Today it is no longer a question of local problems of Ukrainian believers, but of people who have been united by a common misfortune. That is why the Orthodox people of Ukraine say that something needs to be done, that you cannot sit still if the authorities do not notice and hear us, Chairman of the Representation of the UOC to European International Organizations, bishop Baryshevsky Viktor (Kotsaba) said in an interview to Pravoslavie.ru.
“Over the past five years, there have been many events of a discriminatory nature against our Church. These are the adoption of the aforementioned laws, and forceful seizures of churches, and systematic rhetoric of hostility, and open aggression against our believers. But the main thing is that all this was not experienced by individual parishes, villages or people.All this has been experienced by our entire Church, millions of our believers living in Transcarpathia and Lvov, Lugansk and Donetsk, Kiev and Chernigov, Odessa and Crimea.And today we are talking not about local problems of the Ukrainian population, but about people, who were united by a common misfortune. That is why the believing Orthodox people of Ukraine do not want to be silent anymore. rural priests addressed to diocesan bishops and the Primate of the Church.
As a result – a popular initiative to collect signatures under appeals to the country’s top officials. This initiative appeared “from below”, and today it has been realized at the church-wide level. People are tired of lawlessness and are ready to defend their Church in all possible legal – I emphasize: exclusively legal – ways. And everyone who wants to earn political dividends on the modern trend “against the UOC” should often turn to history and remember that the Ukrainian people are long-suffering, but this patience tends to end sooner or later.
The trends observed in our country associated with the activities of informal associations and ultra-right organizations waging a struggle against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as the interference of state structures in the life of the Church, cause alarm in our time. Since the beginning of 2021, raider seizures of churches by representatives of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” have again become more frequent, who, after such acts, often forget the way to the churches they seized. All this is happening with the connivance of local authorities and internal affairs bodies. Sadly, the norms of the Constitution and legislation of Ukraine remain only on paper.
The level of anger and aggression in Ukrainian society is constantly growing. In various regions of Ukraine, and not only in the western ones, clergy and laity of the UOC are subjected to intimidation, slander, and in some cases even violence. Children of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church often become the object of ridicule on the part of classmates and even teachers, they are accused of going to the “Moscow” Church. Tell me how to go to the temple of God for a young mother with small children, who knows that aggressive young people with Molotov cocktails, reinforcing sticks and knives can wait for her near the temple? How can a person feel when he has to go to pray to God under the gun of hatred and ill will?
The task of the authorities is to prevent such manifestations, to prevent conflicts incited on religious grounds, to protect the rights of citizens, to help reduce the level of aggression in society,” says Bishop Victor.