Archbishop Ihor Isichenko of UAOC comments on possibility to unify churches
The possibility to unify the Ukrainian Churches is "very simple" as of today, said Archbishop Ihor (Isichenko) of Poltava and Kharkiv of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).
"In September, a project was developed at a special council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate in Donetsk. The strategy, which resulted from the discussion, is currently being implemented in Ukraine. The same way as we were united in 1930 through the liquidation of UAOC and in 1946 through the liquidation of UGCC, the present regime in Ukraine can use administrative resources to liquidate the churches that are alternative to the Russian Church," stressed the bishop in a BBC program.
The bishop added that such arithmetic addition of communities will not preserve the believers in such a church. For example, he mentioned the situation in Russia, "where all the attempts of religious communities to leave the Moscow Patriarchate are actually liquidated ... And has the Moscow Patriarchate retained its authority in Russia? By no means," said the bishop.
As for the pressure of the officials in the regions, where the Moscow Patriarchate has great influence on other religious communities, especially, Orthodox ones, Archbishop Ihor in a commentary for portal-credo.ru reported that the replacements of persons in the offices of Kyiv was not reflected in the position of the Kharkiv and Poltava Eparchy of UAOC. "I have received not a single signal about pressure put on priests. Perhaps because our clergy was formed in the conditions of permanent confrontation with the state authorities and was never attractive for conformists," stressed the bishop.
On the other hand, he noticed substantial pressure put on the priests under the previous president. "The Kaniv parish still cannot regain control of a church, which was passed to the UOC-KP by the Cherkasy authorities. The brother of former President Yushchenko, Petro Yushchenko, transferred the parish of John Chrysostom to the UOC-KP," he said.
And the statements of Patriarch Filaret about attempts to destroy the UOC-KP through political pressure, in the opinion of the archbishop, are connected with the experience of use of administrative pressure by the adherents of the UOC-KP. "Patriarch Filaret expects application of that experience to his Church not without grounds. 'For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you,' (Luke 6:38)" said the bishop.