Statements from Ukrainian Orthodox bishops

Statement of the Ukrainian Council of Churches on the decision of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine

STATEMENT of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations on the Occasion of the Russian Federation Soviet of the Federation of the Federal Sobranie of March 1st, 2014

On March 1, 2014 the Russian Federation Soviet of the Federation of the Federal Sobranie on request of the President of Russia has given its permission to employ Russian troops in Ukraine. The military engagement of another country on the territory of Ukraine is a threat not only for our country but also for peace and stability on the European continent in general.

We call the authorities of Russia to give up the military or any other interference into internal affairs of Ukraine that are not provided by the international law and bilateral agreements. The Russian authorities ought to realize their responsibility before God and mankind for possible irrecoverable consequences of the military conflict on the Ukrainian land.

The Ukrainian people have friendly, fraternal feelings toward the Russian people. Citizens of Ukraine do not wish to enflame hostility. We want to continue to build fraternal relations with Russia as a sovereign, independent country.

Once again we testify to the recognition of the legitimacy of the state authorities formed by the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine and the officials appointed by the acting President Oleksandr Turchynov and the Government of Ukraine.

We appeal to the international community with the request to do all the things possible to keep peace in Ukraine and keep the territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of the borders of the Ukrainian state. Undermining of peace and stability in Ukraine threatens to ruin all the modern system of the world safety. Therefore all the measures should be used to keep Ukraine from war resulting from the employment of the foreign troops.

Churches and religious communities of Ukraine are with the Ukrainian nation. We call all to more fervent prayers for our Motherland.

May the Lord keep all of us!

Presiding Member of the Ukrainian Council of Church and Religious Organizations,

+ Onufriy,
The Metropolitan of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna,
Locum Tenens of the Kyivan Metropolitan Cathedra
of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)

Kyiv, 2 March, 2014, 7:00 p.m.

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7 April 2014

Council of Churches supports integrity of Ukraine

KYIV – The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) has condemned the separatism and supported the integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

This is stated in the Communique adopted after the session of the UCCRO held on April 3, 2014 in the National Sanctuary Sophia Kyivska, chaired by Metropolitan Onufriy, Locum Tenens of the Kyivan Metropolitan cathedra of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), the Institute for Religious Freedom reported.

The Ukrainian Council of Churches stated unanimously that there is no inter-religious enmity or intolerance between religions in Ukraine. The heads of the churches and religious organizations condemned the provocations and artificial attempts to incite enmity on the grounds of religion, to which some media have resorted.

“The churches and religious organizations maintain inter-confessional and inter-religious peace, despite the period of socio-political crisis that our country suffers from,” emphasizes the communique from the UCCRO.

In addition, the heads of the Ukrainian denominations expressed firm conviction concerning the necessity of building a strategic partnership of churches and religious organizations with the Ukrainian society and the state.

For this purpose, the Council of Churches has proposed the adoption of the draft law ‘On the concept of church-state relations in Ukraine,’ which will help to overcome the consequences of the atheistic past, to implement constitutional freedom, and to establish the mechanisms of cooperation of religious organizations with the state.

The UCCRO welcomes the fact that this draft law is in the top priority in the program of the new government and hopes that the concept will be admitted in the near future.

The heads of the denominations emphasized the urgent need for a legislative solution to specific problems of the churches and religious organizations by the Parliament of Ukraine’s adoption of the applicable laws, which have the support of all members of the Ukrainian Council of Churches.

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Patriarch Filaret of Kyiv Calls on Ukrainians to Stay United

28 March 2014

Patriarch Filaret has called on Ukrainians to stay united due to the threat of Russian occupation of the country. This Primate of the Kyiv Patriarchate said in his statement (full text in Ukrainian).

"The enemy has attacked our country, occupied part of the Ukrainian land. In fact, without declaring war, the Russian authorities have already started a war against Ukraine," he said.

"Kremlin's plans cannot be stopped only with weapons or foreign aid but with our fortitude and our unity. If we, the citizens of Ukraine, belonging to different nationalities, religions, political movements, are united as one people, if we stand in defense of Ukrainian statehood, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity - the enemy's plans will not be fulfilled," writes the Patriarch.

Patriarch Filaret therefore calls on Ukrainians not succumb to panic and stop arguments, because "the future of Ukraine, our shared home, is more important than any issues that divide us."

"God and truth are on the side of the Ukrainian people because we do not wish anyone harm, but only want peace and friendship with our neighbors to live in our own home - united and independent Ukraine. I believe that through our unity, strength of spirit and mutual support, with God's help, together we go through all these challenges.

"May God inspire us with wisdom," said Patriarch Filaret.

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UOC-MP Urges Priests to be Patriots and Prevent Separatist Sentiments among Laity

9 April 2014

Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanych) of Boryspil and Brovary in an interview with Oleh Havrysha for UNIAN-Religion explained the UOC-MP's stance on the riots taking place in eastern Ukraine.

According to him, the UOC-MP has repeatedly stated that it supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

“And today we clearly condemn attempts to deprive Ukraine of its territories and to incorporate them in other states. Therefore, unrest in Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk disturbs us greatly. We see in them a real threat to our country. We pray that our statesmen will have the wisdom to prevent this threat without the use of force. Regarding the influence of the church on the congregation, today it is first of all wielded by parish priests, who communicate with ordinary people who come to church. We encourage our priests to be patriots of their country and to prevent separatist sentiments among the laity,” Metropolitan Anthony said in the interview.

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