Cherkasy Roman Catholics Send Authorities Protest Letter
Fr. Oleksandr Hurskyi, pastor of the Roman Catholic Assumption Church in the central Ukrainian city of Cherkasy, sent a letter of protest to Volodymyr Lukianets, head of the Cherkasy regional administration. This was done in response to a letter which the regional department for nationalities, migration and religion sent to Fr. Hurskyi on 13 September 2002. Fr. Hurskyi has long been asking for the return of church property and criticized the state’s response to these claims. This news was reported by the information agency ForUm on 24 September 2002.
In the letter of 13 September, the department suggested that Fr. Hurskyi and the local Roman Catholic community “explain to the clergy and believers the state policy on the restoration of justice, the defense of rights and legitimate interests of religious organizations, as well as on further development of their moral and political rehabilitation.” The Cherkasy regional authorities referred to the presidential decree “On Urgent Measures for Combating the Negative Consequences of Totalitarian Policies of the Former Soviet Union regarding Religion and Restoration of the Violated Rights of Churches and Religious Organizations,” issued on 21 March 2002. In addition, the department also proposed that the Catholic community identify concrete objects and property, including former religious buildings, monasteries, religious educational institutions, houses of priests and religious, and church schools. The community should then submit a list to the regional administration before 20 October 2002, “in order to prepare proposals and set a deadline for the restoration of the rights of churches and religious organizations to religious property.” Fr. Oleksandr, who is also pastor in the city of Smila (Cherkasy region), believes that, instead of promises to return the property, the authorities are trying to turn religious communities into “their mouthpiece,” whereas according to Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the church is separated from the state. “We are again asking you to quit disrespecting the rights of Roman Catholic believers and involving them in acts of the authorities which are not always proper and tactful,” the letter of protest states. Fr. Oleksandr called the acts of the authorities “the peak of cynicism,” since he has been asking them to return the Roman Catholic church in Smila for three years already. Source: www.for-ua.com