Conflict over Church between Orthodox Denominations in Musorivtsi Continues
TERNOPIL — Representatives of the communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), who are at variance with each other, in the village of Musorivtsi of Zbarazh District, Ternopil Region agreed to a temporary “truce” and alternate services in the church during the Christmas season. RISU’s Ukrainian-language web site posted this story on January 5, 2009.
On January 3, 2010, the believers of the UOC-KP made an attempt to enter the Church of the Protection of the Mother of God and the faithful of the UOC-MP locked themselves inside. A fight broke out with the participation of representatives of the All-Ukrainian Association Svoboda, who came to the village. Police and an ambulance also came.
“They broke the windows and threw metal objects, wooden boards with nails, pyrotechnics, smoke pots, burning rags, etc. They also had containers with petrol, rubber, and they threatened to destroy the church if it was not given up,” reads a report of archbishop Serhii (Hensitskyi) of Ternopil and Kremenets of the UOC-MP to Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan).
Moreover, the bishop maintains that “it all happened in the presence and with the criminal inactivity of the police of Zbarazh headed by Bohdan Tabaka and it continued until our faithful, who were beaten, bleeding and unconscious, were collected by an ambulance. One of the defenders is in the regional intensive care department.”
An address of a similar content was sent by Archbishop Avhustyn of Lviv of the UOC-MP to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Head of the Synodal Department of the UOC-MP on Relations with the Armed Forces and Police.
UOC-KP representatives deny the accusations and accuse the opponents.
“Both the villagers and the clergy of the Kyivan Patriarchate repeatedly made proposals to representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate to settle the conflict according to the will of the community. If three-fourths of the village want to be in the Kyivan Patriarchate and one-fourth in the Moscow Patriarchate, the church, which was built by the whole village community, should be passed to the Kyivan Patriarchate and alternate services should be introduced. Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate flatly reject this proposal and insist on their exclusive right to use the new church. They also reject other options of settling the conflict as they rely on their power, the fanatics brought from the Pochayiv Monastery and information support of Russia,” reports the web site of the UOC-KP.
“The Kyivan Patriarchate agrees to alternate services until its representatives are not let in the church. At the moment these are all just statements which cannot be checked. In their turn, representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate are governed by their bias against the Kyivan Patriarchate,” Ihor Kulchytsky, a representative of the Ternopil Regional State Administration, explains the situation. He sees the optimal solution in alternate services, which, according to him, is a practice in approximately 30 areas of the region.
The head of the Zbarazh District State Administration, O. Ostrovskyi denies that the conflict of January 3 was as bloody and cruel as described by the UOC-MP: “The situation is exaggerated and it is connected to certain political processes,” he says.
As for the police, Bohdan Tabaka, the head of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Zbarazh, abstains from comments. “An examination of the Public Prosecutor’s Office is being conducted. It lasts ten days according to the law,” he responded to our RISU correspondent.
Representatives of the denominations, government, and police negotiated for more than two hours about whom the church will belong to and how to celebrate Christmas peacefully, reported Oleh Ostrovskyi, the head of the Zbarazh District State Administration, to our RISU correspondent.
“The dialogue continues. We have been talking for two hours now. We have agreed on temporary alternate services during the coming holidays. We are also discussing the issue that the church should belong to the village community and not to a denomination,” says Ostrovskyi.