Metropolitan Hilarion: the canonical Church in Ukraine is actually declared an outlaw
As chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk underscored on their air of the Church and the World broadcast, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - the national Church of Ukraine, the Church of the majority of the Ukrainian population - for already several years is facing a critical situation. “The previous president of Ukraine, Poroshenko, decided to create a new ‘church’ fully independent from the Russian Orthodox Church. To do so he used the services of the Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. The new structure was formed on the basis of a schismatic group that had existed since the early 90s and had no legitimacy whatsoever from the point of view of Orthodox canons, being just a group of imposters who were declared to be a ‘church’. Whereas the canonical Church, which has over 12 thousand parishes, several hundred monasteries, over one hundred bishops and millions of the faithful, was actually declared an outlaw’, the DECR chairman noted.
He mentioned in particular the Supreme Rada Law No. 2662-VIII, on the basis of which the authorities were going to forcefully rename the Ukrainian Orthodox Church into the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. ‘But it is not a Russian Church, it is a Church comprised of Ukrainians’, the hierarch underscored, ‘they have Ukrainian passports; they were born in Ukraine, and they are patriots of their country’. As of today, the application of this provision of the law to the canonical Church has been stopped but the law itself has not been cancelled.
Speaking about the reasons why such actions of the state with regard to the church are inadmissible, Metropolitan Hilarion pointed out, ‘First of all, because the Church herself chooses her name. Secondly, because any forcible renaming of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the present situation will lead to the need for her to re-register all her dioceses and parishes, and this means that in each particular place, the faithful, clergy, episcopate will be subjected to pressure to make them re-register themselves as part of the schismatic structure”.