Bill Proposing Privatization of Pochayiv Monastery Provokes Protests
On September 6, Ukrainian deputies Yurii But (a member of a pro-regime deputy group Reforms for the Future) and Dmytro Shentsev (a member of the Party of Regions faction) submitted to the Supreme Council a bill proposing to allow the privatization of the buildings of the Pochayiv Monastery. The monastery is currently under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate.
“Pochayiv Monastery, as well as other ancient monasteries and churches, is a historic asset of the Ukrainian nation and cannot be privatized by an individual religious community,” said Bishop Nestor of Ternopil and Buchach of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate. This position is unacceptable. Today, we can see what is happening to the Kyiv Cave Monastery, where everything possible is rebuilt, ancient buildings are destroyed. Therefore, we should preserve the Pochaiv Monastery.”
According to the bishop, if the monastery is privatized, the attitude of the administration to the local and visiting pilgrims may change.
"Even now we can see quite a negative attitude to all the pilgrims of other denominations, who do not belong to Moscow Patriarchate and come to the monastery just to pray and venerate the relics of the reverent Iov and Amfilokhii. What then can we expect when the shrine belongs to Moscow Patriarchate in the full sense of the word? It is scary to imagine."
According to the head of the Ternopil Regional Council, Oleksii Kaida, with the coming of the new regime, the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in has become much stronger: “Rumours have circulated for half a year that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate intends to get registered as a legal person in order to privatize religious buildings, including churches. If the submitted bill on the exclusion of the Pochayiv Monastery from the list of monuments of the cultural heritage which are not subject to privatization is passed, in my opinion, it will be the first step to deprive the Ukrainian nation of the right to its religious buildings and shrines at all. For it is known that Pochaiv Monastery bears the same relation to Moscow Patriarchate as I do to astronautics. The Ternopil Regional Council once set up a temporary deputy committee which visited Pochaiv. The council heard the opinion of the committee describing illegal activity implemented by the current leadership of the monastery. Therefore, addresses were forwarded to the then President Yushchenko. Yushchenko ignored that. Addresses were also forwarded to the then Premier Yulia Tymoshenko with a request to cancel the order and include the monastery in the list of the state architectural reserves. There was no response either. Even though one could recover the monastery under that composition of the cabinet of Ministers. Now it is difficult to do. We will definitely react. We will address the public, various institutions. For a Ukrainian national shrine cannot be privatized by a non-Ukrainian Church.”
A member of the temporary committee of the regional council on the situation of the Pochaiv Monastery told a correspondent of Pohliad that the deputies have submitted addresses to the Cabinet of Ministers as to the transfer of the monastery to the books of the Ternopil Regional Council in order for the council to be able to dispose of that object as a shrine of the Ukrainian nation and architectural value not only of Ternopil but of the whole Ukraine.
"I will initiate an extra-ordinary session of the regional council. I am preparing an address to the head of the Supreme Council, President as to prevention of the exclusion of Pochaiv Monastery from the list of objects which are not subject to privatization. It is enough that we surrendered the country in Sevastopol, but now we are going as far as to begin to sell Ukrainian shrines. We will pass radical decision to prevent such things. Ukrainian shrines should belong to the Ukrainian nation,” said Barna.