"For now, we tolerate the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, but the time will come," - Metropolitan Epifaniy
Now, according to the first hierarch, the pandemic has artificially suspended the process of joining for the parishes coming from the Russian Orthodox Church to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. There are many other reasons for that. This applies to both political changes and changes in local authorities. There are some supporters who came to power and support the development of the Russian Orthodox Church. But now this process continues, says the head of the OCU.
"Gradually, even every month, several parishes join. But we don't advertise it. We want this to happen peacefully. As a church, we have no right to open another internal religious front inside now. We have this terrible undeclared war in the east of Ukraine. We are now fighting this terrible invisible disease. And we have no right to open another front of religious struggle. We are moving exclusively in the legal field. And I am convinced that soon there will be another wave of parishes joining the Orthodox Church of Ukraine when the pandemic has already subsided when people will be able to gather for meetings freely. These parishes are now maturing and, accordingly, will make an appropriate decision when they can quickly legally reissue the relevant documentation, and there will be no resistance from state authorities.
Now the situation has more or less stabilized, and local re-registration is underway. But there is fierce resistance from the Russian Orthodox Church. For each parish that has joined during this time, there are lawsuits. But we practically win every single one of them, because the truth is on our side. People made relevant decisions by a majority, according to the law, and therefore the courts make decisions that do not contradict the laws of Ukraine," the Metropolitan said.
He also stressed:
"Ukraine is the canonical territory of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. And the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church is temporarily located here, the Ecumenical Patriarch has already determined their status: that we tolerate them until a certain time, but the time will come when they will join the recognized Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and we will form the one recognized Orthodox Church of Ukraine."